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Join fight vs. measles, LGUs told

Local government units must do their share in implementing the government’s immunization program to alleviate the measles outbreak in some parts of the country, a Cabinet official said as the country deals with the highly infectious disease. 

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the comments after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Department of Health to conduct a “vigorous campaign” to promote the complete immunization for children.

According to Nograles, the DOH had been directed to pursue a “more aggressive action” on addressing the epidemic

The Presidential Communications Operations Office, on the other hand, was also tapped to boost its communication efforts to instill anew the importance of vaccination, aiding the DOH with information dissemination.

However, Nograles admitted that aside from the national government and its agencies, the LGUs also played an important role in terms of actions, accountability, and contribution to the immunization.

“All we need to do is to step up the drive, the DOH has to step up its drive and involve the local government units… I think the LGUs play a very critical and important part in this immunization program and other programs of government,” he told a Palace press briefing Friday.

He also said the directives for the DOH to step up the information drive were consistent with the provisions of the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011.

Under Section 4 of the law, “The DOH, other government agencies, non-government organizations, professional and academic societies, and local government units shall make available appropriate information materials and shall have a system of its distribution to the public.”

“So, it’s clear in the law that we need to mobilize the entire government machinery, as well as our partners in the health sector, to inform the public that immunization is provided for free by the government, that it is safe, and that this is needed to protect the lives and health of children all over the country,” he stressed.

“This is the only way to address the current measles outbreak, abate its spread in more areas, and prevent the occurrence of another one in the future.”

He then assured the public that the government would “exert all efforts” to ensure the proper implementation of RA 10152 amid the increase in measles cases in the country.

“The Duterte administration recognizes that this is a public health issue that needs to be urgently addressed. That’s why we are focused on ensuring that the provisions of RA 10152 are properly implemented,” he said.

READ: Measles outbreak in Metro Manila, Luzon

Nograles, however, noted that the government could not force parents to have their children immunized, nor punish them for not having their children vaccinated.

“RA 10152 does not have any penal provisions. It also does not punish parents who do not have their children vaccinated, unlike the PD (presidential decree) it replaced. Under PD 996, it was the duty of parents or those having custody of the child to see to it that the child is immunized. Those who did not could be punished with a 200-peso fine or one-month imprisonment,” explained Nograles.

According to Section 3 of the RA 10152, the government must provide free immunization to infants and children up to five years of age at any government hospital or health center.

Under the law, all infants and children must undergo mandatory basic immunization covering measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases such as Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, Poliomyelitis, Mumps, Rubella or German measles; Hepatitis-B, and Haemophilus Influenzae type B.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque had said his department already eyed P14 billion cut from its 2019 budget in order to curb the outbreak of measles.

According to him, the measles outbreak had spread to more areas in Luzon and Visayas following reports of more than 1,500 cases and 26 deaths.

The DOH chief said measles outbreak had been declared in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Region 6 (Western Visayas), and Region 7 (Central Visayas)

Duque also noted an alarming increase of measles cases in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, MIMAROPA and Bicol region.

READ: DOH outlay cut by P14 billion amid measles outbreak

Topics: Measles , Rodrigo Duterte , Karlo Nograles , Department of Health , Francisco Duque
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