18M kids to be protected on measles, German measles

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A March 14, 2011 press release by the Department of Health
Pursuing the Universal Health Care agenda of President Benigno Aquino III, the Department of Health (DOH) will vaccinate over 18 million Filipino children (aged 9 months to  below 8 years) against measles and German measles (rubella) beginning April 4 in a month-long door-to-door immunization campaign.
About PhP 600 million pesos is allocated for the special campaign, called “Iligtas sa Tigdas ang ‘Pinas” to buy and distribute vaccines, needles, and syringes, mobilize health workers, and produce communication materials. Specially trained local health workers or vaccination teams will visit houses to immunize eligible children.

“We urge mothers, fathers, and caregivers to open their doors to our vaccination teams and avail of this free vaccination,” Health Secretary Enrique Ona said. “We mean serious business when we say that not one child will be left behind.”
DOH aims to reach a coverage of 95 per cent after the special campaign. This will reduce transmission and infection, and strengthen the immunity of Filipino children against the viruses.
The number of confirmed measles cases has significantly increased from 453 in 2007 to 1418 in 2010. More than 70 percent of these cases were among children who had not been vaccinated against measles. The DoH began the surveillance of German measles in 2009. Since then, 1,654 confirmed cases have been reported, mostly among children below nine years old.
Measles outbreaks have been reported in Nueva Ecija, Bulacan and Zamboanga del Norte in 2010.  DOH data till 19 Feb 2011 revealed 1308 confirmed cases were recorded in 20 provinces (Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Batangas, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Iloilo, Southern Leyte, Samar, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Davao Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, South Cotabato, Agusan Norte and Metro Manila). In the past two years, 66 children died from measles, a highly contagious disease that can be easily prevented through vaccination.
“The DoH is alarmed that despite available services, children still get infected and die from a preventable disease like measles.”
The vaccines that will be given during the campaign provides combined protection against measles and German measles. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the combined measles-rubella (MR) vaccine is safe, effective and inexpensive.
“It costs only 67 pesos to protect a child from measles and rubella,” said Ona. He estimated that treating a child with measles and its complications may cost a family between PhP 500 to 15,000. “Immunization is one of the many ways to strengthen immunity of a child against diseases.”
“We call on all of our local leaders to support the campaign. We need your support to help our health workers reach out to children and their families who cannot easily access essential health services,” Ona said.
“But we are all responsible in ensuring that our children get the right health and nutrition care,” concluded Ona.