MANILA - Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday urged parents to have their children immunized, following the measles outbreak in several areas in the country.
"Back to bakuna ang tanging solusyon sa namamayagpag na problema sa patuloy na banta sa ating kalusugan lalung-lalo na sa ating mga anak," Duque said in an interview on DZMM.
(Back to vaccine is the only solution to problems that pose as risk to our health, especially to the health of our children.)
In a previous interview, Duque said that low trust in the government's immunization drive may be attributed to anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
Moving forward, Duque said the DOH is preparing to trace all defaulters from the agency's targeted population since 2015.
"Kung kinakailangan mag bahay-bahay, suyurin na 'yung mga defaulters, yung mga unvaccinated at turukan ng measles vaccine," he said.
(We will do house-to-house to get to defaulters, the unvaccinated, and have them vaccinated.)
The DOH is currently conducting an outbreak response immunization in Manila, Taguig, Quezon City and other areas with reported measles outbreak.
A total of 441 measles cases and 5 deaths have been reported in Metro Manila, while Central Luzon had 192 cases and 4 deaths.
Aside from the two areas, the Department of Health (DOH) expanded the measles outbreak to Calabarzon, Western Visayas and Central Visayas.
Measles, caused by a virus that infects the respiratory tract, can be passed through direct contact and through the air. Its complications include severe diarrhea, pneumonia, blindness, and even death, according to the DOH.
Symptoms of measles include fever, reddening of the eyes, cough and colds, and red rashes, the agency added.
Duque said the measles vaccine is usually given to children at 9 months. But they are now looking at giving the vaccine earlier than 9 months.
Free vaccine against measles is available in government hospitals and health centers.
Many patients with measles are sharing beds in congested hospitals due to the lack of facilities to handle the increasing number of those affected by the outbreak.
"Meron tayong kakulangan sa kapasidad sa ospital. Kung lahat io-ospital natin ay mahirap mapangasiwaan 'yung overly congested ang ating mga ospital at 'yung risk na pati 'yung walang tigdas ay baka mahawahan," said Health Secretary Francisco Duque.
(Hospitals lack the capacity if we are to admit everyone with measles. It would also be hard to manage an overly congested hospital as this may pose as risk to those who do not have measles.)
Hospitals, he said, should have isolation rooms where patients with the same illness, like complicated measles, are confined. This is also a way to prevent the further spread of the disease.
Duque said managing the illness can also be done at home, but it is still best to bring the patient to the nearest health facility to be assessed by a doctor.
"Hindi pwedeng mga nanay lang ang magsasabing 'ok lang yan, dito na lang 'yan.' Pinakamaganda pa rin na dalin sa pinakamalapit na pagamutan para ma-assess ng duktor kung ano ba talaga ito at sila ang magbibigay ng payo kung dapat tanggapin sa ospital o dun na lang sa bahay i-manage," he said.
(It’s not up to mothers to decide if they can just treat the child at home. It's still best to bring them to the nearest hospital and let doctors do the assessment if the child needs to be admitted or they can be treated at home.)
If there's no need for the patient to be hospitalized, Duque advised mothers to still isolate the child with measles at home.
"Sa mga bahay, ok lang naman na ilagay sila sa isang kuwarto, huwag isasama sa ibang bata, lalo na kung 'di pa nagkaroon ng bakuna, ay pwede namang i-manage," he said.
(It's ok to manage the illness at home just have them stay in a room, separate from other children, especially those who have yet to get the measles vaccine.)
He likewise stressed the need for those who would be caring for children with measles at home to watch out for signs or symptoms of respiratory distress.
"Pneumonia ang unang dahilan ng pagkamatay ng mga bata," he warned.
(Pneumonia is the most common cause of death in children with measles.)