Poverty, lack of health services account for measles outbreak – health group

Medical mission in Brgy. Sta Ines, Tanay, Rizal. Dec 18-20, 2018. CHD, St. Scholastica’s (Tuazon), Redemptorist, Katribu, Dumagat Sierra Madre. (Photo courtesy of CPRH)

Still, P14 billion has been slashed from the 2019 budget of the Department of Health, its secretary Francisco Duque confirmed in news reports.

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — 60 children dead in one hospital alone.

This is the current situation now as the measles outbreak here in the Philippines continues to spread. But how did it come to this?

A group of health workers, the Coalition for People’s Right to Health, pointed out that the lack of health services in communities is “the more significant cause for the increasing cases of measles.”

In fact, data from the Department of Health revealed that the percentage of fully immunized children has been below 70 percent over the past few years, a far cry from its 95 percent target “needed to assure herd immunity, or the protection of society against these communicable illnesses,” said the Coalition for People’s Right to Health in a statement.

Gloria Arellano of Kadamay told Bulatlat that the poor will be affected the most, given the lack of social services they are receiving. This, she added, should serve as a wake up call to provide much-needed services.

Still, P14 billion has been slashed from the 2019 budget of the Department of Health, its secretary Francisco Duque confirmed in news reports.

Plight of IPs

The Coalition for People’s Right to Health also called on the attention of government officials to communities of indigenous peoples who are long deprived of social services. They pointed out that Dumagat communities in Tanay, Rizal and General Nakar, Quezon reported increased cases of measles last year.

“Although parents from these indigenous people communities wanted to have their children vaccinated and access health services as soon as they become sick, the reality is that the health workers only visit once or twice a year,” said Dr. Joshua L. San Pedro, CPRH co-convener.

Piya Malayao of tribal group Katribu told Bulatlat that at least 50 were documented dead in 2018 among the Dumagats and Blaans, indigenous peoples group residing in the provinces of Rizal and Sarangani, respectively. Among those dead, she added, are aged 0 to 16.

She said the lack of social services provided to tribal communities is worsened with the intensifying threats and harassments they are being subjected to as they continue to defend their ancestral lands. .

San Pedro said, “we know that Dengvaxia is but one of the many failings of the government in providing for the people’s health. Therefore, we have to look at the broader situation while also seeking accountability for such failings.”

Dengvaxia scare

It did not help, critics said, that the Sanofi’s brouhaha was turned into an apparent mass hysteria when the Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta led autopsies of children who supposedly died due to the dengue vaccine.

A television news report recently aired a health worker assuring residents that the vaccines they are giving out are “not Dengvaxia.” While there were parents who agreed, there were still some who refused to have their children vaccinated for measles.

“While it cannot be denied that deaths attributed to Dengvaxia sowed fear among parents and children and made them wary of other vaccines, the absence or lack of health workers and services in many of our communities still account among the main reasons why preventable and curable diseases like measles continue to increase,” said San Pedro. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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