Info drive on measles heightened in SouthCot as incidence climbs

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/7 April) — Health personnel in South Cotabato province have stepped up their measles awareness and immunization campaign due to the continuing increase in disease incidence in the area.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) chief, said Monday they have already recorded a total of 92 suspected measles cases in the last three months within the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

He said majority of the cases were recorded in several villages in Polomolok town, where a sudden surge in suspected measles cases was reported last month.

“The situation there has already been controlled and measures are being undertaken by the municipal health office (MHO) to totally contain the disease,” he said.

The official said the effective detection system implemented by local health personnel mainly helped prevent the further spread of the disease.

He said the early detection of the suspected measles cases allowed the MHO to immediately intervene and implement some remedial measures.

Aturdido said they have sent samples taken from some of the patients to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City for confirmation.

The confirmatory tests at the facility, which is run by the Department of Health (DOH), are usually completed in one week but the release of the results could take some time.

In January, the IPHO recorded 10 cases of measles infection in various hospitals in Koronadal City and in Tupi town.

Aturdido said the measles cases mostly involved children, two of whom had history of travel recently to Pasay City.

The area, however, was not among the nine Metro Manila cities where the measles outbreaks were earlier reported.

In 2013, the official noted that the province has not recorded a single case of measles although they submitted a number of samples to the RITM for the confirmatory tests.

But Aturdido said the possibility of measles outbreak in the province is quite remote as the area’s child immunization rate for the disease is currently at 94 percent.

The DOH Region 12′s regional epidemiology and surveillance unit reported that a total of 121 suspected measles cases were recorded in the entire region last year.

Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Aturdido said they intensified their measles immunization drive in the province to address the rising disease incidence.

He said they recently delivered additional vaccines that were provided by the DOH-12 to local health centers.

“The morbidity rate among those who were not given measles vaccines is quite high but those who already received them are assured of life-long immunization,” he added. (MindaNews)