Following President Rodrigo Duterte’s appeal to the public to have children vaccinated, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) rallies local government units (LGUs) to be proactive partners in the conduct of nationwide immunization campaign to address the measles outbreak.
“The measles outbreak was fueled by a scare which can be corrected through intensive information dissemination. The nationwide immunization campaign is a vehicle for us to reverse the measles outbreak and we turn to our LGUs to be our partners in encouraging parents to have their children immunized,” DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said.
“Sa atin namang mga magulang, ‘wag po tayong matakot pabakunahan ang ating mga anak, Bilang isang ama, alam ko ang pangambang inyong nararamdaman ngunit ang kaligtasan po ng ating mga anak ang kailangan nating maging prayoridad,” he added.
Año, through Memorandum Circular 2019-47, enjoins LGUs to support the Department of Health’s (DOH) Nationwide Immunization Campaign and other actions to curb the spike of measles cases in the country.
In the said directive, LGUs are to provide necessary support for the DOH’s Nationwide Immunization Campaign to ensure its successful conduct and implementation; ensure active participation of health workers and other officials; and encourage their constituents to bring all suspected measles cases to the nearest health facility for early treatment and proper case management, among others.
According to Año, LGUs must commit and intensify its efforts to help mitigate the ballooning number of measles cases. “Let’s not wait for another death. For the longest time, we have measles under control, and we can do it again through the LGUs’ proactive involvement and cooperation of the communities,” he said.
Based on the official data of the Department of Health (DOH), there are almost 23,000 cases of measles as of March 19 this year, a number highly exceeding last year’s 2,393 reported cases.
“These numbers are alarming even for our President which is why decisive actions must be instituted before it gets out of hand,” Año said.
Año also emphasized that LGUs may utilize 70 percent of the five percent of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF) for the expenses relative to the immunization campaign and other actions to address the growing number of measles cases.
“As it escalated to an outbreak, LGUs can use their LDRRMF, subject on its availability and the usual accounting and auditing rules and regulations. Mahalaga din na may certification mula sa DOH na talagang may measles outbreak sa nasabing LGU,” he explained.
The DILG Chief says that the national government, spearheaded by the DOH with other government agencies such as the DILG, is conducting a massive information dissemination campaign and vaccination in schools and communities and expects LGUs to participate and get involved.
“This information and immunization campaign will be senseless if it will not reach the communities and neutralize the measles cases in the country kaya naman napakahalaga na katulong natin ang mga LGU sa mga gawaing ito,” he explained. In the same memorandum, LGUs must coordinate with the DOH’s Center for Development Health Regional Office and other agencies to ensure appropriate information dissemination down to the communities; and guarantee that all DOH measles advisories and other information, education, and campaign materials are disseminated to all families and households.
The Department is also looking on requesting the LGUs to extend their immunization schedules beyond regular working hours and possibly even on Saturdays and Sundays to accommodate as many as possible.