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March 7, 2010

In The Boondocks In Search Of A Virus

As predicted and expected, the last week of February was "toxic". Two suspect measles cases came to my clinic and triggered what would be another toxic month for the health workers of Candoni's RHU. The first suspect was a 6 years old who grew up in Manila, migrated to Candoni 2 years ago, and never had any immunization against Measles. The second suspect was a 15 years old who grew up outside of Candoni, in one of the nearby towns in Negros, migrated in Candoni 10 years ago and had been in and out of town. Immediately after our culminating activity for our Heart Month, I called for an emergency meeting with all the midwives and health volunteers to discuss our strategy. Protocol dictates that we need to have a laboratory confirmation of the Measles. In fact, the two suspect cases were sent to Bacolod for laboratory confirmation. However, that would take some time and what we didn't have was time. Measles can spread fast especially among susceptible individuals. Measles can be fatal.

The decision to immunize children 5 years old and below (6 months minimum) was what we have agreed and during our emergency meeting with the Mayor, Mayor Borromeo immediately agreed to a mop up immunization of children living in the same area where the suspects came.

March 1 was the first day of our Campaign Against Measles. We started in Purok Manzano where around 60 mothers and their children waited for us and listened to our short talk on why we were doing this activity. The village chief (barangay captain) of Brgy. West was personally present to make the appeal for cooperation.

That same day in the afternoon, we visited another far-flung area called Salarungon in Brgy. Haba. We were able to gather around 30 mothers and even had to drop by a house where a mother was initially reluctant not to have her child immunized against measles. The village chief of Brgy. Haba accompanied the staff and helped convince the mother to have her child immunized.

Day 2 of immunization was spent in Bancolo-an, Gatuslao. It was yet another far-flung area but well accessible. Around 50 mothers gathered in the house of one of the barangay health workers of the barangay which served as an outpost for the community. I gave a lecture on Measles (Tipdas in Hiligaynon) and thanked the mother for their support and cooperation.

During the second day, the RHU team broke into three teams. I joined the Bancolo-an team. There was another team who went to Bali, Agboy (one of my farthest sitios) and another went to Magballo, East.

Day 3 was the regular EPI day and I accompanied the team in Brgy. Payauan where more than 100 mothers waited for us. We gave a lecture on Measles, including Newborn Screening and Facility-based deliveries. Brgy. Captain of Payauan was very supportive, even helping mothers during the immunization of their children. I talked with kapitan Sabio and he told me that he would make sure that all mothers would bring their children for immunization.

Another week begins and another set of puroks and sitios are waiting for us. The serum samples of our suspect cases were already sent to RITM last Wednesday and we are expecting the results to be in by this week. Hopefully, it will only come out as negative for measles.

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