DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 August) – Seven children have died of measles in the city as of Aug. 8 and there has been a spike in confirmed cases of the disease, a health official said Thursday.
Armi Capili, head for immunization of the City Health Office attributed the rise in measles cases to the failure of many mothers to have their children immunized.
She said in Thursday’s iSpeak media forum at City Hall that the office has so far received 1,228 reports of suspected measles cases as of Wednesday but only 120 have been confirmed.
According to Department of Health regional unit head for health education and promotion Divene Hilario, the total regional prevalence of the disease in 2013 was only 129.
Capili said the spike could be attributed to the highly contagious nature of the disease one case of which can contaminate up to 20 people.
In 2012, there were only four confirmed cases in Davao City, which Capili attributed to an intensified immunization campaign in 2011. In 2013, the number rose to 50.
Hilario said in a phone call Thursday there seemed to be a miscommunication with mothers regarding immunization against measles.
“The problem is that some parents do not take their children back to the health centers after the prescribed nine months for a second shot,” she said.
Parents need to take their children to the centers again for a second booster dose for the vaccine to take effect, she explained.
The CHO appealed to parents to take their children below five years old for free vaccination the whole month of September amid reports of a disturbing spike in cases of measles in the city.
Capili said the department will be spearheading a massive immunization program for measles, rubela, and polio from September 1 to 30 at health centers and other vaccination points even if they have been immunized in the past.
As of August 8, the CHO said most reports of suspected measles cases came from Talomo North (201), Talomo South (133) and Buhangin (116).
The expanded immunization campaign faced other challenges, too, according to CHO assistant officer for operations Marjorie Culas.
Culas, who was also a guest at Thursday’s press forum, said some civil society organizations have been misinformed by internet sources about the supposed “bad effects” of immunization such as a cause of abortion and autism.
She said this was a great blow to one of the CHO’s teenage immunization programs last year, but this was immediately corrected through the help of the city council committee on health.
Capili said immunization coverage was highest in Barangays A, C, D, as well as Buhangin, Agdao, Bunawan, Baguio, Calinan and Tugbok.
She said immunization coverage for the city is at 54% so far. In 2013, the figure was 75% and in 2012, 91%.
But the City Investment Plan for Health said the ideal immunization coverage for all diseases including measles should be at least 95%.
Culas said the World Health Organization considers one case an epidemic already. (MindaNews)