Davao Region reports 4 deaths in measles outbreak

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Health (DOH) in Davao Region has appealed to parents to submit their children to government-sponsored measles immunization after it received reports that 4 children had died from the highly-infectious viral disease.

Abdullah Dumama, DOH XI director, confirmed the figures on Tuesday, January 23, after Davao City declared a measles outbreak.

“Our coverage [of the immunization] is quite low. We’re only hovering at 37% in the whole region,” Dumama told DXRP Radyo ng Bayan.

The recorded deaths are from the DOH XI’s list last updated on January 12, according to Dumama.

There were 224 cases identified with measles infection, he said, adding that majority of the patients were children. 

Out of the 224 cases, 119 were not vaccinated, he said.

“Many of these were from Davao City, while others were migrants from Marawi,” he said. “Their reasons was that the mother was busy, while others said their children were sick at a time they were due for vaccination, while others just forgot their schedules.”

He also pointed out “religious beliefs” as one of the factors the mothers opted not to have their children vaccinated.

“We’re asking the public not to turn down these programs because the government is doing its best to eradicate measles,” he appealed over the radio.

Davao City's chief health officer said they had to declare an outbreak to raise awareness on the importance of performing immunization operations across the city.

The city declared the same outbreak in 2014, with at least 230 people reported to be infected in just 3 months.

Locally known as tigdas, the disease is best fought through measles-rubella immnunization, according to DOH. (FAST FACTS: What is measles, and how can it be prevented?)

In 2012, the government committed to eliminate the disease in the coutnry, with 3 waves of immunization campaigns conducted in 1998, 2004, and 2007.

(UPDATE: After the Davao Region, Zamboanga City, a barangay in Taguig City, Negros Oriental, and Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental also declared an outbreak.) Rappler.com