Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Number of measles cases down, Albay PHO says
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 3 (PNA) -– The Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Albay calls it a victory after pressing down from 18 in the early period of last January to only three the number of measles cases in the province as of the third week of the same month.

Nonetheless, PHO chief Nathaniel Rempillo said “we are continuing with our vaccination operations so that our immunization campaign is able to reach out to more vulnerable Albayanos, especially children within the six months to three years old age bracket.”

At least, the quick response activities the provincial government has put in place since the first day that suspected measles cases started coming out last month is getting successful in putting the spread of the virus under control, Rempillo said.

From January 5 to 11, he said, the PHO recorded 18 cases sporadically distributed among different areas in the province.

One patient, a young child from as island village of Tabaco City, reportedly died during the period.

As of January 21, Rempillo said the number of reported cases was down to only three, a considerable decline that the PHO is attributing to the concerted efforts of the provincial government, local government units and their respective public health service offices, the Department of Health (DOH) regional office, barangay officials and community volunteers.

The cooperation extended by parents in submitting their children to the immunization drive and in heeding all the other precautionary measures advised by the DOH and local health workers is one big contribution to this success, he added.

The anti-measles campaign in public schools launched early last month by the regional office for Bicol of the Department of Education (DepEd) based here also helped a lot, Rempillo noted.

According to DepEd Regional Director Ramon Fiel Abcede, the education department’s campaign is based on DepEd Memo No. 03 s.2014 recently issued by Education Secretary Armin Luistro “in response to the increase in the number of individuals contracting measles nationwide as per advisory of the DOH.”

School heads all over Bicol have been instructed to send home students exhibiting flu-like symptoms to rest and recuperate while DepEd is also asking schools to disseminate information about measles and immunization procedures as well as to report identified cases to concerned local health units, Abcede said.

They have also been advised to coordinate with the local government health units for the complete vaccination of children, he added.

Earlier in this city, Mayor Noel Rosal came out with an instruction directed to the City Health Office (CHO) for the conduct of precautionary measures such as the conduct of door-to-door immunization, targeting all eligible members of each household in the 70 barangays of the city.

Not a single case of measles has been reported from the city last month and “all we want is complete prevention,” Rosal said.

Dr. Fulbert Alec Gillego, the CHO chief, said his office is also conducting a massive information campaign through community assemblies, radio broadcasts and reading materials to heighten the awareness of local communities on the prevention and treatment of measles.

He explained that measles, also called rubeola, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that causes fever, runny nose, cough and rash all over the body.

Measles is a treatable disease but deadly due to complications such as diarrhea, pneumonia, malnutrition, otitis media and encephalitis, if not treated promptly.

It could also cause blindness, according to Gillego, adding that it could also be prevented through immunization with measles vaccine.

Rempillo said that despite the dramatic decrease in measles cases, the PHO, in coordination with all the municipal and city health offices across the province, is proceeding with its conduct of mass immunization province-wide within this month to totally eliminate the threat of an outbreak that this highly contagious disease poses on the province.

The measure, he said, is also in respond to the advisory of the DOH to prioritize children aged below three years old especially in localities with laboratory-confirmed cases of measles within this month to intensify and fast track active immunization under its Outbreak Response Immunization (ORI) program.

Surveillance data from the National Epidemiology Center (NEC) show that most confirmed measles cases in 2013 were those involving persons aged thee years old and below.

DOH-Bicol is also conducting today (Monday) its catch-up vaccination campaign in all rural health centers regionwide. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/