Jakarta: Measles, rubella, and diphtheria still pose threats to children and should be prevented from spreading through immunization, the Indonesian Pediatric Association (IDAI) stated.
"Let us not become careless. Do not become too occupied with COVID-19, as there are always measles, rubella, and diphtheria that threaten our children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, and nephews every year," member of IDAI's childhood immunization task force Prof. Dr. Soedjatmiko, Sp.A(K), M.Si noted during a virtual press conference titled "Let's Make BIAN 2022 a Success" on Tuesday.
He pointed out that in 2021, some 25 provinces in Indonesia had reported an increase in the number of cases of measles and rubella.
"In 2022, despite only 14 provinces (having recorded an increase), if they are not immediately prevented, then they can spread more widely," he remarked.
Soedjatmiko explained that measles does not only cause fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath, and red spots but can also cause pneumonia, seizures, inflammation of the brain, and even death.
In fact, as many as 2,853 babies had pneumonia, and 571 infants had seizures and inflammation of the brain due to measles during the period from 2012 to 2017, he further noted.
Soedjatmiko reported that during the 2012-2018 period, rubella had caused disability in 1,660 infants in type A hospitals. When rubella attacks pregnant women, the fetus they are carrying experiences heart defects in 79.5 percent of the cases, blindness due to cataracts in 67.6 percent of the cases, intellectual disability in 50 percent of the cases, brain not developing in 48.6 percent of the cases, and deafness in 31.1 percent of the cases.
"If they are born disabled due to rubella, they need Rp600 million until they are eight years of age," he stated.
Of the cost, only a small section of it is covered by the National Health Insurance (JKN) Program, he remarked.
Soedjatmiko cited the Health Ministry's data in February 2022 wherein diphtheria was recorded in 23 districts in 10 provinces.
According to Soedjatmiko, if diphtheria attacks the throat, it will clog the airway. In addition, the bacteria can produce toxins that will damage the heart muscle.
"Hence, there are two possibilities of death in the form of airway obstruction or damaged heart muscle," he remarked.
He noted that fatalities due to those diseases might be experienced by people, who are not immunized or those who have not completed their immunizations.
He expressed regret that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the coverage of measles, rubella, and diphtheria immunizations in Indonesia had been decreasing drastically.
To this end, he invited parents to complete their children's immunizations to prevent the threats presented by those diseases.