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3 dead, 592 others afflicted with measles in BARMM since January

COTABATO CITY – Three children in the Bangsamoro region died from measles in the past 10 weeks while 592 others contracted the viral, supposedly vaccine-preventable disease during the period, regional officials reported on Saturday.

Fallacies and superstitious beliefs among residents about vaccinations against diseases are partly blamed for low turnouts of immunization campaigns during the time of the now-defunct regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which operated for 27 years. It has since been replaced in 2019 with a more administratively empowered Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Islamic religious blocs are trying to help the BARMM government address the problem, invoking religious teachings on life preservation via proper health care and against superstitions about it, which is taboo in Islam. 

Officials of the Ministry of Health-BARMM, among them its minister, the physician Rizaldy Piang, separately told reporters on Saturday that the ministry declared a measles outbreak in the autonomous region last Thursday.

BARMM covers the provinces of Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi that have towns too far away from the MoH-BARMM provincial offices.

Reports reaching the office here a doctor of medicine in the 80-member BARMM parliament, the physician-ophthalmologist Kadil Monera Sinolinding Jr., indicated that 220 children in Lanao del Sur contracted measles since January and that two of the patients in the province died while being treated in hospitals.

The third measles fatality is in Sulu, according to records from the MoH-BARMM and the Sulu Integrated Provincial Health Office.

Sulu had 91 measles cases in the past 10 weeks, 160 in Maguindanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur and 80 in its provincial capital, Marawi City.

The 63 Bangsamoro barangays in Cotabato province in Region 12 and Maguindanao del Sur each had 11 cases from January to the second week of March, according to officials of MoH-BARMM.
The regional capital of BARMM, Cotabato City, had four measles cases since January while the remotest province in the region, Tawi-Tawi in the far south, had three