Health experts have warned that around 2.6 million kids in Philippines are at risk due to measles outbreak in the country, as many people have died from the disease this year than in all of 2018.
The outbreak has killed 261 people this year alone, and most of the victims were children aged under five, a 547 percent increase that the previous year with 202 deaths, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) found.
‘The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) with the Philippines' health department is now aiming to immunize all unvaccinated kids across seven of the hardest-hit regions over the next 12 months.’
"It is completely unacceptable that children are still dying from measles in 2019," CNN quoted Richard Gordon, chairman, and CEO of the Philippines Red Cross, as saying on Friday.
The IFRC, with the Philippines' Department of Health, is now aiming to immunize all unvaccinated children across seven of the "hardest-hit regions" over the next 12 months.
"We are drawing on the skills and dedication of our two million Red Cross volunteers to go door-to-door and neighborhood-to-neighborhood," Gordon added.
Filipinos' confidence in vaccines fell dramatically after a 2014 scandal involving a new dengue fever vaccine, Dengvaxia.
Those with no history of dengue were at a greater risk of developing a more severe form of the disease after having the vaccination.
Rudy Constantino, Director of the Philippines Department of Health Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, told CNN that vaccine levels for measles, flu, and other diseases dropped from 70 percent in 2017 to 39 percent in 2018 "because of the Dengvaxia scare."
Gundo Weiler, the World Health Organization representative to the Philippines, said the country was now suffering from a measles outbreak "every three to four years," pointing to large-scale outbreaks in 2011 and 2014.
The Philippines outbreak comes after global measles cases increased by 48.4 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to Unicef analysis.