As a response to reports that the number of suspected measles cases tripled nationwide during the first month of the year, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday urged the Department of Health (DOH) to intensify its vaccination education to the public.
Hontiveros, who is the Vice-Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, also asked the DOH to immediately identify and address the gaps which led to the increasing number of measles cases in the country.
"Is there a trend that the public is deferring from immunization? Is there growing public distrust in the government's national vaccination program? Was the tripling of the measles cases the result of an increasingly populated environment or was it due to lack of access to vaccines and/or information? Whatever the case may be, our health department must act swiftly and decisively," Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros said that the government must go on a "national educational roadshow" to educate the public about the positive effects of immunization and provide accurate information regarding vaccines.
"Bottom-up education campaign"
The Senator however said that due to the Dengvaxia issue, the health department should do a bottom-up educational campaign rather than the usual top-down approach.
"More than ever, the government must engage the public in sober, intimate and grassroots conversations on how vaccines grealty help in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Our doctors, nurses and barangay health workers play a crucial role in patiently explaining the details of the country's vaccination program, and in dispelling the public's doubts and fears," Hontiveros explained.
"I believe that an effective vaccination education is one of the best ways to increase once again our vaccination rate and reduce the number of vaccine-preventable diseases," Hontiveros said.
The DOH said that a total of 877 suspected measles cases were reported nationwide from Jan. 1 to Feb. 3, 2018. This is almost triple the number of cases reported during the same period last year. Most of the cases were from ARMM, Region 9, Region 11, Region 10 and Region 12. The age of the victims ranged from less than 1 month old to 65 years old. #