MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte will discuss with his Cabinet the country’s immunization programs, a Palace official said Wednesday, as the health department declared a measles outbreak in Metro Manila and Central Luzon.
Secretary to the Cabinet Karlo Nograles said the immunization program is on the agenda of Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.
The Department of Health has raised alarm over the rising number of measles cases in the country, with some officials blaming the fiasco involving dengue vaccine Dengvaxia for the reluctance of some parents to subject their newborns to measles vaccination.
Duterte has urged Filipinos to avail of vaccines with proven efficacy, especially for newborns.
Cases of measles, locally known as "tigdas," rose by 550 percent from January 1 to February 6, 2019 in Metro Manila compared to the same period last year, said Health Secretary Francisco Duque.
The DOH recorded 169 cases of measles in the capital region from January 1 to February 6 this year, higher than the 26 cases recorded in the same period last year.
Since January, at least 55 deaths from measles was recorded at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, most of them children aged 3 months to 4 years old.
At least 248 children were being treated for the disease at the San Lazaro Hospital as of Tuesday morning.
In Central Luzon, Jesse Fantone, chief of the DOH's Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, confirmed the outbreak.
As of February 2, the DOH in Central Luzon has recorded 442 suspected cases of measles.
Meanwhile, Duterte was also set to discuss with the Cabinet the streamlining of procedures at the Department of Agrarian Reform, as the President complained of the agency's supposedly sluggish pace in resolving land use conversion cases.
The Department of Agriculture and the Land Bank of the Philippines were also expected to tackle ways to provide small farmers and fisherfolk better access to credit and loan facilities, and how to improve agricultural productivity while making the programs “more inclusive, allowing small farmers and fisherfolk to play a bigger part in nation-building.”
The national ID system will also be discussed, as the government holds a test run of the system which aims to register over 100 million Filipino citizens and resident aliens by 2023.