Benguet starts house-to-house "Knockout Tigdas"
by SC Aro
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet (15 October) -- The World Health Organization(WHO) is strongly campaigning for the eradication of measles, an infectious and crippling disease, in line with the nationwide massive launching this month of "Knockout Tigdas" aimed to eliminate measles by 2008.
WHO representative Dr. Howard Sobel, who graced the launching of the door-to-door Knockout Tigdas in the province, said measles which should be looked into in a different way is an infectious disease known to man, more infectious than SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory System and Avian Influenza.
The massive vaccination started October 15, and will end on November 15, 2007 among children aged nine months to 48 months old with a nationwide target of 9 million. Also included are deworming and vitamin supplementation for the same age group.
According to Acting Provincial Health Officer Dr. Norma Pacalso, the province targeted 35,072 children adding that there were reported cases of measles outbreak.
Sobel stressed that virtually every child who is not protected will get measles. He explained that for every 100 persons not immunized, 20 percent will incur complications such as pneumonia, diarrhea, malnutrition blindness, encephalitis among others.
Of the 100 children who acquire the so called crippling disease, one die according to Sobel. He said this is worse if the child is malnourished as mortality will be much higher.
Sobel revealed that prior to the elimination of measles in 1998, 15,000 died every year which was decreased by 50 percent in 2003.
With the introduction of the Ligtas Tigdas campaign in 2004, it has decreased cases by 96 percent and measles death by 99 percent. Sobel said this was an amazing accomplishment that the world took notice of.
Sobel said there was not a single positive case of measles from 2004 to November 2006. However, in Nov 26, 2006 and onwards, outbreak returned to the Philippines particularly in Manila, then to Zamboanga and Basilan. There was an upsurge of cases in said areas. It has spread through Lanao Norte and Palawan and is spreading all over again, he added.
"We are at risk of losing what we have gained. That is why we need to take strong action now and get every child of eligible age to get vaccination of anti-measles," Sobel stressed.
Prior to 2004, the Philippines accounted for 27% of all the measles deaths in the Western Pacific Region which includes China, Vietnam and Cambodia and other counties but has drastically decreased to around 1.2%.
DOH invested over P100 million for the anti-measles campaign for the purchase of vaccines and training to beef up campaign efforts according to Sobel. There were also donations from the Church of the Latter Day Saints worth P45 million; United Nations Foundation, P45 million; WHO, P1 million for mobilization expenses and community preparations; and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) posters to complement advocacy programs.
Sobel claimed that WHO was instrumental in the fund raising efforts for the campaign. He said he had been to different countries to raise funds and support.
Admittedly, Sobel said the reason for the outbreaks was because 20 percent of eligible children were not vaccinated from 2004-2006 including 2007.
"We have a way to go. We can improve a lot of a further more if we have done so far. And about the deaths, lot of effort needs to be put into the future into strengthening our working keenly with these kids," Sobel said. He stressed that campaign is necessary now to stand the outbreaks that are happening. (PIA-Benguet) [top]