Project description

This in-depth data report investigated the correlation between the Philippines’ waning immunization coverage, and the spike in measles cases and deaths this year.

On February 9, the Philippine Health Department has declared a measles outbreak in at least 5 regions in the country, including the most densely populated Metro Manila. CNN Philippines has been on breaking news coverage since the announcement.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque has blamed Public Attorney’s Office Chief Persida Acosta for the public’s decline in vaccine confidence and compliance causing the spike in measles cases.

Acosta is prosecuting some former and current government officials after some children who received the dengue vaccine or Dengvaxia from 2016 to 2017 fell ill or died. Acosta’s group of forensic personnel concluded that the dengue vaccine caused the death of the children.

The Health Department maintained, however, that there is no solid proof to directly associate the vaccine to the fatalities. Acosta still asserted her team has proven this. She also denied she was responsible for the measles outbreak.

This story was published within 36 hours after a breaking news coverage on the measles infection’s rising death toll, which has already reached 305 as of February 19.

What makes this project innovative?

In the midst of the chaos of the blame game among government agencies, there was a need to analyze all data on vaccination in the Philippines. This report is innovative because it's a multimedia report that has interactive heat maps, graphs, infographic, and a TV report version. The data report that aired on TV was also embedded in this web story. Our audience can opt to watch the TV report instead if they find the article long. It used open-access visualization tools online which readers can share on social media. These tools are probably not new to some readers in Western countries, but here, local media networks are still in the stage of introducing them to our audience. We received great feedback from health advocates in the country, saying, so far, this report is the only in-depth article that they could find that thoroughly explained the correlation between the dengue vaccine scare and the waning immunization coverage in the Philippines which resulted to a disease outbreak.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

In the midst of the chaos of the blame game among government agencies, there was a need to analyze all data on vaccination in the Philippines. This report is innovative because it uses open-access visualization tools online which readers can share on social media. These tools are probably not new to some readers in Western countries, but here, local media networks are still in the stage of introducing them to our audience. We received great feedback from health advocates in the country, saying, so far, this report is the only in-depth article that they could find that thoroughly explained the correlation between the dengue vaccine scare and the waning immunization coverage in the Philippines which resulted to a disease outbreak. The data report that aired on TV was also embedded in this web story. Our audience can opt to watch the TV report instead if they find the article long.

Source and methodology

All data are from the Philippine Health Department. Data were gathered from immunization reports of the agency’s regional offices. The data also include a survey among mothers of children who remain unvaccinated.

Technologies Used

I used the most basic tools. I used Google Sheets because it can be easily shared among my colleagues. On February 19th, health officials made another announcement that the number of measles cases and deaths has doubled. They have also admitted that the spread of infection will not stop anytime soon. Since we have to publish the story in the soonest possible time, I had to delegate the visualisation of data to a producer, who I had to brief about using Data Wrapper. I went on to writing the report while the producer works on the visualisation, still under my supervision. Data Wrapper’s heat map only includes a per province distribution of data. However, what I had was a per-region dataset. So the producer and I had to devise a way so that we could group the provinces into regions.

Project members

Makoi Popioco. LA Cascaro

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