By ERWIN MASCARIÑAS
BUTUAN City–The Department of Health (DOH) has issued an alert as the cases of measles spiked by over 500 percent in Caraga. The DOH recorded 20 measles-related deaths in the region since January.
The Center for Health Development (CHD) of DOH in Caraga said a total of 1,206 cases of measles were documented in the region from Jan. 1 to June 22 of this year, 506 percent higher compared to the the number of cases during the same period last year. In 2018, the DOH only counted 199 cases in Caraga.
In its initial investigation, the CHD pointed out that communities of indigenous people were the worst hit.
Officials said most of the measles cases this year were documented in the towns of Lapaz, Loreto, Rosario, San Luis and Talacogon in Agusan del Sur.
Since the start of the year, a cumulative report of 20 deaths classified as suspected measles deaths had been recorded by the CHD, and 18 of the fatalities came from Agusan del Sur, said Dr. Dioharra Aparri, medical officer at the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit.
Agusan del Sur reported the most number of cases with 357, followed by Surigao City, 291; Surigao del Norte, 160; Surigao del Sur, 109; Butuan, 108; Dinagat Islands, 57; Agusan del Norte, 48; Bayugan City, 25; Cabadbaran City, 18; Tandag City, 17; and Bislig City, 16.
From May 26 to June 22, records show 29 measles cases in Loreto, Rosario and Talacogon in Agusan del Sur, and 17 in Surigao City.
Aparri said that with the number of cases, the CHD has mobilized nurses, hired under contract of service, to augment the local health staff in advocacy and vaccination activities.
“Logistics and vaccines were pre-positioned at the provincial health offices for easy access by respective rural health units,” said Aparri.
Dr. Jose Llacuna Jr., DOH director for Caraga, said the have been closely coordinating with the local governments to quickly address the problem and to intensify the information campaign on vaccination.
“We are mobilizing our resources and we are exhausting all efforts to battle the measles disease. However, we cannot do this alone. Cooperation of caregivers and parents in vaccination activities should also be emphasized. Cooperation and unity are utmost needed during these times of difficulty,” Llacuna said.