Sunday December 15, 2019

2.6 mn Children at Risk in Philippines Measles Outbreak

The Philippines outbreak comes after global measles cases increased by 48.4 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to Unicef analysis

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Measles, WHO
A health worker vaccinates a toddler against measles in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. VOA

Health experts have warned that about 2.6 children in the Philippines were at risk due to a measles outbreak in the country as more people have died from the disease this year than in all of 2018, the media reported on Friday.

The outbreak has killed 261 people this year alone and most of the victims were children aged under five, a 547 per cent increase that the previous year with 202 deaths, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) found.

“It is completely unacceptable that children are still dying from measles in 2019,” CNN quoted Richard Gordon, chairman and CEO of the Philippines Red Cross, as saying on Friday.

The IFRC, with the Philippines’ Department of Health, is now aiming to immunise all unvaccinated children across seven of the “hardest-hit regions” over the next 12 months.

“We are drawing on the skills and dedication of our two million Red Cross volunteers to go door-to-door and neighbourhood-to-neighbourhood,” Gordon added.

Vaccination, vaccine
A child receives a measles vaccination in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 6, 2018. (VOA)

Filipinos’ confidence in vaccines fell dramatically after a 2014 scandal involving a new dengue fever vaccine, Dengvaxia.

Those with no history of dengue were at a greater risk of developing a more severe form of the disease after having the vaccination.

Rudy Constantino, Director of the Philippines Department of Health Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, told CNN that vaccine levels for measles, flu and other diseases dropped from 70 per cent in 2017 to 39 per cent in 2018 “because of the Dengvaxia scare”.

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Gundo Weiler, the World Health Organization representative to the Philippines, said the country was now suffering from a measles outbreak “every three to four years”, pointing to large-scale outbreaks in 2011 and 2014.

The Philippines outbreak comes after global measles cases increased by 48.4 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to Unicef analysis. (IANS)

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Kids in LMICs Receive Excessive Amount of Antibiotic Prescriptions

Kids in low income countries prescribed excess antibiotics

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Antibiotic Prescriptions
Children who receive excessive antibiotic prescriptions may lose the ability to fight pathogens. Pixabay

Kids in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) are receiving an excessive amount of antibiotic prescriptions that could harm the children’s ability to fight pathogens as well as increase antibiotic resistance worldwide, warns a new study.

Children in these countries received 25 antibiotic prescriptions through age five – a “remarkable” estimate, given that two antibiotic prescriptions per year is considered excessive in many high-income settings, said the study published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

“We knew children in LMICs are sick more often, and we knew antibiotic prescription rates are high in many countries. What we did not know was how these elements translate into actual antibiotic exposure – and the results are rather alarming,” said lead author of the study Gunther Fink from Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), Basel, Switzerland.

Antimicrobial resistance is one of today’s biggest threats to global health and development, according to the World Health Organization.

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Children in LMICs received 25 antibiotic prescriptions through age. Pixabay

One factor contributing to this global health threat is the excessive use of antibiotics worldwide.

The research team from Swiss TPH and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the US analysed data from 2007-2017 from health facilities and household surveys from eight countries: Haiti, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nepal, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Results showed that antibiotics were administered in 81 per cent of cases for children with a respiratory illness, in 50 per cent for children with diarrhoea, and in 28 per cent for children with malaria.

The researchers found that the number of antibiotic prescriptions in early childhood varied from country to country.

While a child in Senegal received approximately one antibiotic prescription per year in the first five years of life, a child in Uganda was prescribed up to 12.

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In comparison, a prior study showed that children under five in Europe receive less than one antibiotic prescription per year on average.

“This number is still high given that the vast majority of infections in this age group are of viral origin,” said study co-author Valerie D’Acremont from Swiss TPH. (IANS)