Government rushes medics, supplies to measles-hit villages

28 Nov 2018
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ALABEL, Sarangani (November 28, 2018) – A team composed of Department of Health (DOH) personnel, the provincial government, municipal government, Red Cross and from other agencies set out today to conduct medical mission and further investigate suspected measles cases in the hinterlands of Malapatan.

More medics and medical supplies will follow via helicopter tomorrow.

The Sarangani Provincial Health Office (PHO) has confirmed at least 18 fatalities as of November 27, validated to have been triggered by a suspected measles outbreak in far-flung villages of Malapatan.

PHO Medical Technologist ll Federico Yadao said they are still waiting for a confirmatory report from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), a health research facility based in Muntinlupa, of the 22 blood samples sent on November 22 to corroborate the cause of deaths.

As initial intervention, a team composed of nurses from the DOH and midwives of the Rural Health Unit of Malapatan was sent to investigate and did measles vaccination to more than 500 individuals in Upper Suyan on November 19 and 22 following a reported measles outbreak.

The provincial government of Sarangani also provided medicines, vaccines and other needed supplies for the two waves of medical mission conducted last week, said Yadao.

Yadao said from the 74 identified individuals exhibiting the signs based on the line-list of symptoms of the disease, majority are between ages one to five years old with 23 male and 20 female children.

Three cases each are reported in less than nine months and in nine to 11 months, 10 in six to 10 years old, and eight cases identified for both 11 to 15 years old and 16 years old and above age bracket.

These cases, Yadao said, were concentrated in sitios of Barangay Upper Suyan particularly Lower Kyugam with 22 cases, 14 in Alna, 15 in Mahayag, seven in Uper Kyugam, five in Lino, four cases each in Alnaob and Datalnay and one reported case each in Dlandang, Akbual and Klarak.

Upper Suyan is roughly 3 hours ride but reaching the nearest Sitio Alna would take seven hours trek. It takes another five more hours of trekking to get into the farthest Sitio Upper Kyugam.

Common signs and symptoms, according to Yadao were “fever, rashes, cough, conjunctivitis, koplik spots” while other symptoms reported were arthralgia, fast breathing and watery stools.

In a report from PHO, the latest mortality’s final diagnosis on reported fatalities admitted in Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital in General Santos City was “measles with bilateral pneumonia secondary to aspiration.”

As of November 27, there are still 12 admissions reported in Diagan Cooperative Hospital and one in Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital.

Measles cases went to alarming level starting November 6 but its peak was noted on November 12 with already reports of admission in the hospitals in General Santos City.

Patients, according to Yadao, have been enrolled in the “hospital assistance program” of Sarangani so they could avail of free hospitalization in the different hospitals in General Santos City where Sarangani has existing memorandum of agreement.

“We also alerted all hospitals especially Glan. Kapag may bumabang pasyenteng instead na pupuntang General Santos City, we’ll cater them in Glan para ma-ensure natin na meron talaga silang rooms,” Yadao said.

“We already have confirmed cases of measles in other municipalities like Glan and Alabel… but na co-control s’ya. But what happened to Upper Suyan is talagang mabilis na nacover yung 74 ka tao and may napatay pa talaga,” which Yadao cited an immediate engagement to address the increasing cases.

According to PHO, fully immunized children in Upper Suyan recorded at 99 percent in 2017 and dropped to 79 percent in 2018 however Yadao denied that the Dengvaxia scare contributed to increasing number of suspected measles cases because of the remoteness of the area that limits them to news and information.

He instead attributed it to the behavioral aspect of the communities to participate in activities like vaccination and immunization.

“Yung long-term and mid-term goals talaga ang dapat pag-iisipan ng barangay at municipyo kung ano talaga yung pinaka magandang gawin,” he said, where one of the recommendations is to deploy health worker who could live in the area with complete vaccines, medicines and supplies. (Beverly C. Paoyon/SARANGANI COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE)

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