Im­mu­niza­tion gaps threaten gains on measles

Sun.Star Pampanga - - PERSPECTIVE! HEALTH! -

MANILA -- Measles out­breaks in the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) Western Pa­cific Re­gion are putting ba­bies, chil­dren and young peo­ple at risk and threat­en­ing progress to­wards wip­ing out the dis­ease.

The re­gion had his­tor­i­cally low lev­els of measles cases and no ma­jor out­breaks in 2017. This land­mark de­cline was achieved through steady ef­forts to vac­ci­nate all chil­dren against measles, but last year, measles cases in the re­gion in­creased by 250 per­cent, and more than two-thirds of the cases were in the Philip­pines.

So far this year, the Philip­pines has re­ported 23,000 cases with 333 deaths — al­ready more than all of last year. Trag­i­cally, most of the cases were among chil­dren younger than five years old.

Measles can cause de­bil­i­tat­ing com­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing en­cephali­tis, se­vere di­ar­rhea and de­hy­dra­tion, pneu­mo­nia, ear in­fec­tions, and per­ma­nent vi­sion loss.

“In re­cent months, we’ve seen how swiftly and eas­ily measles can make a come­back in com­mu­ni­ties where not enough chil­dren have been im­mu­nized,” WHO Re­gional Di­rec­tor for the Western Pa­cific Takeshi Ka­sai said.

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