January 8, 2019
MAKATI CITY – Save the Children Philippines called on parents and health workers to intensify measles vaccination due to the steady rise of deaths among children caused by complications from the preventable disease.
Lawyer Albert Muyot, chief executive officer of Save the Children Philippines said there is a need to dispel the public scare against vaccination in general as it has prevented mothers from having their children immunized.
A scare against vaccination spread in the Philippines because of the Dengvaxia vaccine against dengue.
“Parents and community health workers must be at the forefront of the campaign to dispel the public scare against measles vaccination to make sure children do not die from the preventable disease,” said Muyot.
The number of deaths from measles, mostly children climbed five times to 17,289 between January to November 2018, compared to 3,706 cases recorded during the same period in 2017, according to the Department of Health.
The recently passed First 1,000 Days law highlights the need for complete immunization of babies including measles vaccines before they reach one year old. It also ensures children’s health and nutrition and better performance in schools.
Dr. Amado Parawan, health and nutrition advisor of Save the Children Philippines said immunization is important to ensure herd immunity of children from the airborne virus of measles.
He said measles vaccine has been used in the country for four decades and has prevented deaths and diseases among children since then.
“We cannot compare measles vaccines which have been proven to be effective in saving the lives of children from the life threatening disease to the newly developed Dengvaxia, which is the subject of the public scare,” said Parawan.
He said measles virus is airborne and easily transferred among infants and children who have not been vaccinated.
“Complications from measles are pneumonia and diarrhea, which are also the top two leading causes of deaths among children,” said Parawan.
Save the Children Philippines has been implementing maternal and child health and nutrition programs among poor families in Navotas, Malabon, Caloocan through access to immunization, prenatal check-ups for pregnant mothers and training of community health workers.
Under Project NURTURE, the group is implementing nutrition-sensitive measures in eight poor barangays in Navotas with focus on the first 1,000 days of the child to prevent stunting and improve the health of pregnant and lactating mothers. The program includes prenatal check-up, food vouchers for pregnant and lactating mothers as well as health and nutrition services for undernourished children.
Save the Children Philippines pushed for the enactment of the First 1,000 Days law that scales up the nutrition support for mothers and children in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, which is the crucial window of opportunity to ensure that mothers and children in Philippines achieve optimum development.