At least four ranking congressmen have suggested multi-agency and national-local coordinated measures to address the measles outbreak.
Noting the confirmation by the Australian government that a child who came from the Philippines carried the measles virus to Western Australia, Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy has called for civil aviation protocols to screen airline passengers and keep the virus from spreading.
Dy, who authored the Bill of Rights for Air Passengers said that the same protocol in place for SARS “would be the same to be used for measles but instead of keeping the virus out, the objective now is to keep measles from spreading to the rest of the country and the world.”
The airport and civil aviation authorities must take extra special care of children, pregnant women, seniors and other people who may be susceptible to the measles virus, the lady Assistant Majority Leader also said. She also reminded airlines and airports to continue to respect passengers’ rights especially when there will longer line and delayed and canceled flights.
For his part, AANGAT TAYO Party-list Rep. Neil Abayon, who is also a registered nurse, has asked the Department of Health to publicly disclose the barangays and neighborhoods, in Eastern Visayas, Metro Manila and other regions, where there are confirmed cases of measles, so that the local government officials concerned will be able to take appropriate measures to prevent the further spread of the highly-contagious and potentially fatal disease.
Also, Abayon suggested the strategic deployment of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) 2,000 school nurses to prevent measles from spreading in public schools, where malnourished children would be vulnerable to infection because of their poor health.
“Among the most vulnerable to measles in the DepEd public schools are the at least two million children nationwide who are of wasted or severely wasted nutritional status,” House Deputy Minority Leader Abayon said.
“Huwag balewalain ang sintomas at magpatingin agad sa ospital. Ibayong pag-iingat dapat para sa mga buntis, mga sanggol, at mga bata. Kung kayo ay may karamdaman, huwag na please pumasok sa trabaho para hindi na mahawahan ang katrabaho,” Abayon advised the public.
Abayon is the author of House Bill 7874 which seeks the creation of the School Health and Safety Office in every public school, including SUCs, nationwide. The country has 13,396 secondary schools (including 5,965 senior high schools), 38,648 elementary schools, and 112 SUCs.
For his part, 1-Ang Edukasyon Party-list Rep. Bong Belaro asked DepEd and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on Thursday to direct all school heads to take precautions against measles for the health and safety of their students and faculty.
“Schools can be hotspots of the spread of measles and other contagious diseases because of population density and vulnerability of children and teenagers because of their health status, so precautions are necessary,” House Assistant Minority Leader Belaro said.
“Quick check screenings for fever, red eyes, cough, and rashes can be done at the campus gates by health personnel. Parents should be advised to not send their kids to school if they have the symptoms of measles. Instead of school, they should go to the nearest barangay health center or government hospital,” said Belaro, who is one of the authors of the Universal Health Care bill.
Meanwhile, House Deputy Majority Leader Ron P. Salo, a former Department of Health consultant and principal author of the Universal Health Care bill, said poor families with members infected with measles can avail of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) coverage for indigents.
The Senate and House ratified a version of the Universal Health Care bill was sent to the Malacanang last January 23, 2019, awaiting the approval and signature of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Congressman Salo urged families to immediately go to hospitals when they see the symptoms of measles among their household.
“PhilHealth will be there for the indigent families. Covered ng PhilHealth ang measles. Ang mahalaga, masuri ng doktor at malapatan agad ng lunas ang sinumang pasyente na mayroong measles. Buhay at kalusugan ang mahalaga,” Salo said.
“I point out the PhilHealth coverage for indigents because some families may hesitate in going to the doctor because they have no money. PhilHealth is there for our people, particularly the poor,” Salo said.
House Deputy Majority Leader Salo also asked the Department of Social Welfare and Development to alert their field offices in Metro Manila and other regions affected by the outbreak so that the social workers there will be ready to quickly help the indigents avail of PhilHealth measles coverage.
“Barangay officials and personnel should also be ready to provide their constituents with the certificate of indigency and barangay clearance which may be needed by indigents to apply for PhilHealth coverage,” Salo added.
Rep. Abayon, who voted for the Universal Health Care bill in plenary, said mayors and barangay leaders must be informed of where these measles cases are spreading so the local leaders can extend the needed health care services at their disposal.
“The public must also be properly advised of the necessary preventive, quarantine, and decontamination measures that can be done at home, at work, on public transport, and in public places,” AANGAT TAYO Party-list Rep. Neil Abayon said.
Rep. Belaro said, “correct information about measles should be circulated among teachers and students to counter any rumors, fake news, misinformation, and disinformation.”
“This is not the time for any quackery, unscientific home remedies, and unsanitary practices that can only make matters worse for any person, especially children, infected with measles,” the education congressman said.