2019 Philippines measles outbreak

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2019 Philippines measles outbreak
2019 Philippine measles outbreak map.png
Regions officially experiencing a measles outbreak in red.
Index caseIndeterminate, Outbreak first declared in Metro Manila
Confirmed cases23,563[note 1]
338[note 1]

The 2019 Philippines measles outbreak began in early 2019. An outbreak of measles was officially declared in February 2019 in select administrative regions in Luzon and Visayas including Metro Manila by the Philippine government. The outbreak is attributed to lowered vaccination rates, from a high of 88% 10 to 15 years previous to 74% at the time of the outbreak, allegedly caused by the Dengvaxia controversy.


The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines declared a measles outbreak in Metro Manila due to an 550% increase of the number of patients from January 1 to February 6, 2019 compared to figures of the equivalent period from 2018.[1] Outbreaks were also officially declared in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western Visayas, Central Visayas.[2][3] and Northern Mindanao.[4] A joint report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization has stated in the report that the outbreak started much earlier in late-2017 in Mindanao.[5]

Metro Manila and Calabarzon being the most affected regions with at least a thousand cases each.[6][7]

The DOH has recorded at 8,443 cases from January 1 to February 18, 2019 with 135 of these cases resulting to deaths.[8] In February 22, 2019, it was reported that there are at least 11,459 cases and 189 deaths recorded nationwide.[4]


In connection with the measles outbreak, the Philippine government has been maintaining a tally of confirmed cases and deaths from measles nationwide, including in regions not officially experiencing a measles outbreak.[9]

Confirmed cases by region (26 March 2019)
(Source: Department of Health – Health Emergency Management Bureau[9])
Region Confirmed
Official outbreak declaration
Ilocos Region (Region I) 1,035 12 No outbreak
Cagayan Valley (Region II) 349 2 No outbreak
Central Luzon (Region III) 3,761 57 Outbreak declared
Calabarzon 4,838 98 Outbreak declared
Mimaropa 987 8 No outbreak
Bicol Region (Region V) 694 6 No outbreak
Western Visayas (Region VI) 1,371 5 Outbreak declared
Central Visayas (Region VII) 1,115 10 Outbreak declared
Eastern Visayas (Region VIII) 1,023 24 No outbreak
Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX) 302 1 No outbreak
Northern Mindanao (Region X) 1,159 10 Outbreak declared
Davao Region (Region XI) 489 7 No outbreak
Socsksargen (Region XII) 576 4 No outbreak
Caraga (Region XIII) 576 2 No outbreak
Bangsamoro (BARMM) 451 4 No outbreak
Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) 367 1 No outbreak
Metro Manila (National Capital Region; NCR) 4,568 87 Outbreak declared
Total (Nationwide) 23,563 338 Outbreak in 6 out 17 regions


Vaccination against measles is available for free in government hospitals and health centers but there is a lowered trust in vaccination in the country. According to an opinion poll conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2018, 32 percent of the surveyed 1,500 Filipinos trusted vaccines. In the 2015 iteration of the poll, 93 percent of the respondents said they trusted vaccines. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III attributes the lowered trust on the government's immunization drive due to the Dengvaxia controversy.[10]

The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said that the outbreak is caused by "failure of the health system" saying that the distribution of vaccines down to the barangay level has not worked properly. They cited that immunization rates in the country have been declining in the past 10 to 15 years with about 74% immunized at the time of the outbreak compared to a high of 88%; 10 or 15 years ago.[1] UNICEF and the WHO has also attributed increase vaccine hesitancy in 2018 due to the Dengue vaccine controversy as a factor contributing to the outbreak.[5] Statistical data from UNICEF, however, shows that decline in Measles vaccination began as early as 2014, four years before the Dengvaxia controversy happened.[11]

As of February 22, 2019, 64 percent of all cases recorded at that time involved individuals who were not vaccinated against measles.[4]


The Department of Health released an informercial featuring boxer Manny Pacquiao in order encourage parents and guardians to get their children vaccinated against measles in response to the outbreak.[12]

Neighbouring Malaysia's state of Sabah through the Health and People Wellbeing Ministry working towards getting all children, especially stateless people to be vaccinated following the outbreak in their neighbour the Philippines.[13]


  1. ^ a b Nationwide statistics by the Department of Health – Health Emergency Management Bureau. Includes figures from regions where an outbreak has not been officially declared.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Aguilar, Krissy (7 February 2019). "Failure of health system leads to measles outbreak – UNICEF". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  2. ^ "DOH Expands Measles Outbreak Declarations to Other Regions". Department of Health. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Questions and answers on the measles outbreak in the Philippines". World Health Organization. 12 February 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "NDRRMC Update Sitrep No. 07 re Measles Outbreak, 1 March 2019, 5:00 PM" (PDF). National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. 1 March 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Philippines Situation Report 11 Measles Outbreak" (PDF). UNICEF, World Health Organization. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  6. ^ Cruz, Sofia Toma (11 February 2019). "At least 70 deaths due to measles – DOH". Rappler. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  7. ^ "Number of measles cases climbs to more than 4,300 — DOH". CNN Philippines. 11 February 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  8. ^ "Measles cases breach 8,000 mark but may dwindle in April – DOH". CNN Philippines. 19 February 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  9. ^ a b "NDRRMC Update Sitrep No. 13 re Measles Outbreak, 26 March 2019, 5:00 PM" (PDF). National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. 26 March 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Measles outbreak declared in 3 more regions". ABS-CBN News. 7 February 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  11. ^ Philippines: WHO and UNICEF estimates of immunization coverage: 2018 revision data.unicef.org accessed 15 May 2020
  12. ^ Crisostomo, Sheila (19 February 2019). "Measles outbreak death toll hits 136". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  13. ^ Stephanie Lee (14 February 2019). "Sabah moves to control measles after Philippines outbreak". The Star. Retrieved 27 August 2019.