Press Release
November 13, 2023

Bong Go reminds Filipinos to be vigilant as measles and rubella cases surge

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, has urged Filipinos to remain vigilant as the country grapples with a surge in cases of measles and rubella despite a nationwide child-focused immunization drive against said diseases.

"Nais kong magpaalala sa inyong lahat na maging maingat sa gitna ng pag-usbong ng mga kaso ng tigdas at rubella dito sa bansa. Suportahan natin ang kasalukuyang programa para sa pagbabakuna at mahalaga pa rin na tayo'y mag-ingat at maging mapanuri," reminded Go.

The "Chikiting Ligtas" immunization program, spearheaded by the Department of Health (DOH), aims to safeguard the health of Filipino children. It was conducted from May 2 to June 14, and successfully vaccinated approximately 84% of children against measles and rubella, making commendable progress in protecting the young population.

Despite the immunization drive, the latest surveillance report from DOH is a cause for concern, with 1,823 cases of measles and rubella reported from January 1 to October 7.

This represents an alarming increase compared to the 494 cases recorded during the same period the previous year. Of these cases, 1,731 were measles infections, and 92 were rubella.

The surge has affected all 17 regions of the country, with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) witnessing the most significant rise with 532 cases, marking a 3,992-percent increase from the 13 cases reported in 2022.

BARMM is composed of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and Cotabato City.

Meanwhile, fatalities due to measles have also increased. Five deaths have been reported this year, with affected regions including CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan), Davao (Davao de Oro, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, and Davao Occidental), and BARMM.

The senator then emphasized, "Do not let your guard down, even in the face of vaccination efforts." He urged parents to ensure that their children are up to date with their immunizations and to consult healthcare professionals for guidance on vaccination schedules.

Go also stressed the significance of community awareness and encouraged Filipinos to report suspected cases promptly.

Recognizing the need for a more comprehensive response to public health crises, Go mentioned that he has refiled his twin bills aimed at the establishment of the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP).

Should Senate Bill No. (SBN) 195 be enacted into law, it will mandate the creation of the CDC as the leading authority responsible for the development of initiatives pertaining to communicable disease control and prevention. Its primary duty will revolve around managing the prevention and containment of infectious diseases within the country.

Additionally, Go has also introduced SBN 196, which aims to establish VIP. This institute will serve as the nation's primary hub for virology research, laboratory investigations, and technical coordination among the various virology laboratories nationwide.

"Bilang inyong chairman ng Committee on Health, dapat one-step ahead tayo. Kailangan mag-invest tayo sa ating healthcare system. Mayroon rin tayong isinusulong na mga bills, itong mga Center for Disease Control or National Disease Prevention Management Authority. Kasali ito sa Philippine Development Plan ni President Bongbong Marcos para mayroon tayong disease control at opisina na nakatutok dito sa mga infectious diseases," Go mentioned.

"At ito ring Virology Science and Technology Institute, sana pagdating ng panahon mayroon na tayong kakayahan na makagawa tayo ng sariling bakuna para makapaghanda tayo sa anumang pandemya na darating sa ating buhay," he added.

Moreover, Go emphasized the importance of accessible and quality healthcare for all Filipinos especially in the grassroots that is why he continues to advocate for the establishment of more Super Health Centers nationwide.

He highlighted the critical role that Super Health Centers play in decongesting hospitals, facilitating early disease detection, and providing primary care, which includes vaccinations and medical consultations directly to the community.

"Itong Super Health Center po, ang serbisyo diyan ay birthing o panganganak, dental, laboratory, ultrasound, at pati pagpapabakuna hindi lang kontra COVID-19, pati po sa tigdas. Kaya mas mapapaigting pa natin ang ating pagpapabakuna kontra measles at tigdas dahil ilalagay po ito sa mga strategic areas sa buong Pilipinas," he continued.

Super Health Centers shall offer basic medical services under one roof, such as database management, out-patient, birthing, isolation, diagnostic (laboratory: x-ray, ultrasound), pharmacy, and ambulatory surgical unit. Other available services in Super Health Centers are eye, ear, nose, and throat (EENT) service; oncology centers; physical therapy and rehabilitation center; and telemedicine, where remote diagnosis and treatment of patients will be done.

Through the collective efforts of fellow lawmakers, sufficient funds had been allocated for 307 Super Health Centers in 2022 and 322 in 2023. The DOH, the lead implementing agency, identifies the strategic areas where they will be constructed.

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