Philippine measles outbreak one of the worst in the world
MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Imagine being sick with the measles and having to share the same bed with two other infected children, or bunk down on a makeshift ward in the hospital parking lot in the heat of summer.
That's what it was like for the kids at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, according to NPR, and those were the lucky ones.
In a WHO report, patients said they were turned away at several different hospitals simply because there was no room.
Hospitals have had to focus on treating measles complications, and limit admissions to patients with other diseases.
NPR reports that the Philippines has had one of the world's most devastating measles outbreaks since January — 33,000 infected, and 466 dead.
To try and contain the outbreak, the government undertook a nationwide measles vaccination campaign.
While this seemed to slow it down significantly, hundreds of new cases still present each week.
It's difficult enough to get Filipinos vaccinated under normal circumstances.
The health care budget is low, as is the average family income; and transportation is difficult in a country that spans 7,107 islands.
But a dengue vaccine scandal two years ago left many parents scared of inoculations, and distrustful of the Department of Health.
NPR reports that while measles in the Philippines is still classified as an epidemic, the worst appears to be over.
Anna Ong-Lim, head of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines, told NPR that one silver lining is that many Filipinos were drawn back into the health system to get themselves or their loved ones vaccinated.
Still, there's a lot of work to be done, not just in immunizations, but in rebuilding public trust in the system.
Over the last three months, the health department has vaccinated over 5.5 million people, and are aiming to have the number reach 20 million by the end of September.