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Philippines: Measles Outbreak - Feb 2019

Disaster types

On 6 February 2019, the Department of Health (DOH) declared a “measles outbreak” in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Region 3 (Central Luzon). On the 7 February 2019, DOH announced that the measles outbreak had spread to more areas in Luzon and Visayas in CALABARZON, Region 6 (Western Visayas) and Region 7 (Central Visayas). Unconfirmed reports from DOH report around 72 deaths among more than 2,000 cases of measles nationwide. While according to San Lazaro Hospital Epidemiology Department (Special National Hospital Medical Center for Infectious Diseases with a 500-bed capacity), there are 1,187 reported suspected measles cases in Metro Manila since January 2019, with 55 deaths. On 5 February 2019, at least 248 children and 21 adults were being treated for measles in the hospital. Most of the confirmed deaths are children aged three months to four years old. (IFRC, 8 Feb 2019)

Cities in NCR with the most cases are: Manila, Caloocan, Marikina, Pasig, Navotas, Parañaque, Taguig, Pasay, and Malabon. (IFRC, 12 Feb 2019)

From 1 January to 13 February, the DOH reported over 4,300 confirmed measles cases. Severe complications from measles have also claimed the lives of 70 people, 1 in 3 of which were children younger than nine months old. More than 80 per cent of 2.6 million unvaccinated children are in the seven regions which have declared outbreaks - Regions III, IVA, IVB, VI, VII, VIII, and the National Capital Region. DOH activated its Incident Command System to implement the nationwide vaccination campaign which will target 95% of the estimated 2.6 million unvaccinated children under 5 years. (OCHA, 15 Feb 2019)

Between 1 January and 18 February 2019, 9,267 measles cases including 146 deaths were officially reported through the routine surveillance system from the Philippines Department of Health (DoH): a 266% increase with the same time period in 2018. (UNICEF/WHO, 20 Feb 2019)

The Department of Health is working with Government agencies in responding to the outbreak and conducting a nationwide immunization campaign. WHO and UNICEF are working closely with the Department of Health to provided technical and funding support to the national programme in the planning, implementation, and monitoring of response activities to contain the outbreak. At the request of the Department of Health, UNICEF is providing tents and is mobilizing its NGO network to support the vaccination campaign. (OCHA, 18 Feb 2019)

Since declaring a measles outbreak on 6 February, the number of cases continues to surge and the Department of Health has reported 12,736 cases of measles and 203 deaths nation-wide as of 24 February. According to the second joint situation report issued by the WHO and UNICEF, the overall risk is assessed as high due to the large number of cases, chronicly low routine immunisation coverage, and increased vaccination hesitancy. Fifty-seven per cent of measles cases are children under five years, with over 80 per cent of cases citing children are not vaccinated. (OCHA, 25 Feb 2019)

The number of cases and deaths due to an outbreak of measles continues to rise. As of 2 March, 16,349 measles cases including 261 deaths were reported by the Department of Health (DOH). There are a number of reports of cases from the Philippines in neighboring countries. The Philippines Government has launched a large-scale information campaign urging parents to have their children vaccinated. The DOH is organising house-to-house vaccinations nationwide, with a strategy to vaccinate all children under five. The Philippine Red Cross has mobilized volunteers to support the immunization campaign and has set up tents in hospitals dedicated to responding to the measles outbreak. (OCHA, 4 Mar 2019)

As of 11 March 2019, a total of 18,553 cases of measles including 280 deaths were reported in 17 Regions. Most of the cases were from NCR (3,850), CALABARZON (4,807), Region III (2,840), Region VI (987) and Region X (876). Ages of cases ranged from less than one month to 88 years old. Majority of the cases were not vaccinated. (Govt. of Philippines, 11 Mar 2019)

Between 1 January and 14 March 2019, 21,396 measles cases including 315 deaths were officially reported through the routine surveillance system from the DoH: a 384% increase with the same time period in 2018. With a median age of 3 years old, 54% of measles cases are under 5 years of age. The majority of measles cases are male (53%). As of 14 March 2019, 60% of cases have no documented vaccination status. DoH estimates that 2% of cases had been previously vaccinated with one or 2 doses. The vaccination status of the remainder of cases is unknown. (UNICEF & WHO, 19 Mar 2019)