Duterte orders DOH to resolve measles outbreak

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DAVAO CITY (February 8)— President Rodrigo Duterte wants a swift intervention on the current measles outbreak plaguing Metro Manila and Central Luzon.

This as the Department of Health revealed about 90 percent of those infected with measles nationwide are unvaccinated, an official of the Department of Health said Thursday.

There are currently outbreaks of measles in the National Capital Region (NCR) and in Central Luzon, according to the DOH.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo on Thursday relayed this information to Palace reporters, saying the Chief Executive has already ordered Health Secretary Francisco Duque to do something about the epidemic.

“[The President] directed Secretary Duque to do something about it, and Sec. Duque said they are already doing something [to address the measles outbreak],” Secretary Panelo said. 

“He was saddened. The President is always affected by any negative outcome that relates to children. Malungkot siya. Kaya sinabi niya na gawan ng paraan agad,” Panelo added. 

According to the Palace official, Health Secretary Duque told him that the Department of Health (DOH) will do a massive immunization and information campaign to address the seemingly misplaced vaccination fear wrought by the Dengvaxia fiasco. 

“There are moves (to allay the Dengvaxia scare). In fact, Secretary Duque, I think, has requested PCOO to help in the information campaign,” Panelo said.

For Sec. Panelo, parents’ fears on immunization are understandable and that’s why the government is undertaking this information campaign to calm those fears.

“[N]atakot iyong mga parents na ipa-immunize iyong kanilang mga anak [dahil sa Dengvaxia scare]. So kailangan ng information campaign, ang sabi ni Secretary Duque para magkaroon ng massive immunization ang mga bata,” Panelo said. 

The Palace is, however, not up for a blame game; instead it wants to find a solution to the measles outbreak.  This after the public’s spate of blame was thrown against Chief Public Attorney Persida Acosta. 

“Wala namang nabanggit [sa Cabinet Meeting]. Nobody blamed anybody there. But Secretary Duque was complaining about how the PAO had impleaded him in several cases, that is one of the reasons why people are hesitant kasi nawalan ng tiwala because of Dengvaxia,” Panelo clarified. 

In the meantime, the government is doing its best to allay the public’s distrust in immunization, said Panelo, adding that the President himself will help in the promotion. 

The President’s spokesperson likewise stressed that there is no better way but to get immunized.

The Palace, meanwhile, said it will not interfere with the House of Representatives’ joint committee recommendation to file cases against former President Benigno Aquino III and his health and budget Secretaries Janette Garin and Butch Abad, following the controversial mass Dengvaxia vaccination in 2016 that led to the public health scare.

“Well, our position is we will not interfere with the findings of the House, being a separate and independent branch. We will defer to it,” Panelo clarified. 

“But I understand the charge is more on technical malversation. In other words, they used specific funds design[ed] for another purpose and [used] it for another. Not on whether the Dengvaxia is the cause of death or what,” he added.-Newsline.ph

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