Red Cross acts on measles outbreak
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - February 19, 2019 - 12:00am

I’m impressed by how fast the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) acts in times of emergencies and calamities of all sorts – devastating typhoons, floods, fires, accidents, and the latest, the measles outbreak. The quick- as -lightning response is in keeping with the humanitarian organization’s mantra, which goes, “Always first, always ready, and always there.”

Characteristically, PRC chair Richard Gordon and staff and volunteers rushed to the San Lazaro hospital in Manila just hours before the Department of Health declared a measles outbreak. 

Gordon, after a long day at the Senate Feb. 7, went to the hospital midnight of the same day to assess the situation of patients and explore areas of augmentation. 

Upon arrival at the hospital, he was dismayed  to see two or three children sharing one bed – with their parents also sharing their space. PRC came up with a solution – install a Measles Care Unit (MCU) in the hospital.  

In addition to the San Lazaro MCU, since Gordon’s visit, PRC has installed four  MCUs, namely at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center in Marikina, Cainta Municipal Hospital in Cainta, Rizal and just the other day, the  Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.

PRC’s MCU is well-ventilated, with air-conditioning units that are fit for a hospital setting. Through the MCU, PRC was able to address the overflow of patients in hospitals. It has durable beds, some are double-deckers, so the children infected with the measles virus are no longer sharing beds. 

But PRC’s measles control program is two-pronged. Aside from providing logistical support, it is also mobilizing the community to immunize the children, especially in vulnerable areas. 

In partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Department of Health, and the City Health Office of Manila, PRC started its mass vaccination drive in  Baseco, Tondo, last Feb. 17-18. Some 1,300 children have received vaccination in Baseco,  777 of them last Saturday, and 530 Sunday. 

Some 250 doctors, nurses, health officers, and logistics assistants volunteered to be part of the 12 teams, which conduct house-to-house vaccination and station-based vaccination. The mass vaccination drive targets to inoculate up to 11,600 children aged six-to-59 months old in Manila alone.

While all these are happening, Gordon emphasized the need to work together to address the measles issue.  

“Huwag na tayong magsisihan. Kailangan nating habulin ang malaking lamang ng bilang ng mga batang hindi pa nababakunahan para ‘wag nang madagdagan pa ang mga nagkakasakit at nasasaktan. Malaki ang immunization gap na kailangan nating habulin. Kailangan magtulong-tulong tayo – private, public at iba pang organizations (Let’s not blame each other. We have to vaccinate children to avoid more measles cases),” Gordon said.

Gordon earlier said that there is no need to declare a “state of calamity” in regions with a surge of measles cases. “What is important is that we show that we’re doing something to address the problem. What is important here is a notice to all to catch up with our immunization program.”

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Incidentally, Senator Gordon on Sunday defended Public Attorney’s Office Chief Persida Acosta against calls for her to resign for allegedly influencing the public against the government’s vaccination program.

Gordon said in a Super Radio dzBB that Acosta did not cause public hysteria on vaccination. As chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee that conducted an inquiry into the procurement of the controversial Dengvaxia vaccination, Gordon said Acosta did not cause hysteria, but was only doing her job. He told Persida that if an investigation into the procurement of the Dengvaxia vaccine proved irregular, he would pursue the case. He said the Dengvaxia issue should not be “politicized”.

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I’ve heard stories about  couples saying the refrigerator they bought on the first week after their honeymoon 20 years ago still works today – but not their marriage. There is also the impression that most marriages, particularly in the United States, are plentiful. And so are divorces. 

But a researcher in the US has revealed that 80 percent of married couples are happy, and that the divorce rate is much lower and always has been. (Atlanta, GA, CBN News, courtesy of Breaking Christian News)

The outstanding researcher, Shaunti Feldhahn, received her research training at Harvard. She and her husband Jeff help people with their marriages and relationships through best-selling books like For Women Only and For Men Only.

This Atlanta-based couple said at conferences that most marriages are unhappy and 50 percent of them end in divorce, even in the Church. More than ten years ago, specific research on divorce showed the statistics wrong. The surprising revelations are revealed in her new book, The Good News About Marriage. 

“I didn’t know,” Feldhahn told CBN News. “I’ve stood up on stage and said every one of these wrong things.”

“First-time marriages: probably 20 to 25 percent have ended in divorce on average,” Feldhahn revealed. “Now, okay, that’s still too high, but it’s a whole lot better than what people think it is.”

Shaunti and Jeff point out the 50 percent figure came from projections of what researchers thought the divorce rate would become as they watched the divorce numbers rising in the 1970s and early 1980s when states around the nation were passing no-fault divorce laws.

“But the divorce rate has been dropping,” Feldhahn said. “We’ve never hit those numbers. We’ve never gotten close.”

And it’s even lower among churchgoers, where a couple’s chance of divorcing is more likely in the single digits or teens.

As the truth about these much lower divorce rates begins to spread, Feldhahn said she believes it will give people hope, which is often a key ingredient to making marriage last. She said hopelessness itself can actually lead to divorce.

“That sense of futility itself pulls down marriages,” Feldhahn said. “And the problem is we have this culture-wide feeling of futility about marriage. It’s based on all these discouraging beliefs and many of  them just aren’t true.”

Jeff Feldhahn said anytime he tells people about his wife’s findings about how incorrect the 50 percent divorce rate actually is, they’re stunned.

“Their mouth drops open and they’re just shocked,” he said. “They go, ‘I can’t believe I believed this all these years. And I’ve heard it so many times. And I’ve heard it from the pulpit so many times.’”

Shaunti added, “This is a great chance to stand up and say. ‘We were all fooled. Not anymore.’”

To that end, Feldhahn has been working to spread the news to pastors and other leaders as fast as she can. 

Feldhahn has more shocking research: four out of five marriages are happy. That number flies in the face of the popular belief that only about 30 percent of marriages are happy.

“Most people think most marriages are just kind of ‘eeh’ – just kind of rolling along,” she said. “And they’re shocked when I tell them that the actual average is 80 percent: 80 percent of marriages are happy.”

Not knowing the true statistics often leads couples to avoid marriage and just shack up instead.

Feldhahn said that couples who avoid marriage do so based on wrong assumptions.

“Like, ‘if I’m just going to get divorced and I’m not going to be happy, why bother getting married, right?’ And it’s based on a lie,” she said. “That feeling is based on a lie.”

The Good News About Marriage also reveals the divorce rate among those active in their church is 27 to 50 percent lower than among non-churchgoers. Feldhahn’s hope is that once people learn the truth that they will spread it far and wide.

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