The story focuses on the measles outbreak in the Philippines in 2018. Its goal was to both measure and visualize how widespread the disease was after 5 of 18 regions were declared to have an outbreak of the disease. It also aimed to illustrate how contagious the disease was to communicate the necessity of immunization, especially due to a big vaccine scare from the prior year. The findings showed measles practically swept across the entire country with only 2 of the 81 provinces spared.
In the few weeks after we published this report, the extent of damage the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine scare had on trust in Philippine health institutions became clear. There was no clear picture of this after the Dengvaxia scare and expects feared the worst with a resurgence in outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases like measles. After we published this report, health authorities saw a continued increase in mass vaccination campaigns to respond to the disease.
The story made use of mapping techniques using Datawrapper for visualization of maps. Data was plotted on CSV files on Microsoft Excel.
What was the hardest part of this project?
Obtaining the data and presenting it in a manner that would best illustrate the status of the measles outbreak in the Philippines was difficult. Data was difficult to come by and required weeks of collating and sourcing to obtain. Health authorities were also having a hard time communicating to the public after the effects of the Dengvaxia scare but we decided to do this to show the public the toll the measles outbreak was taking on public health.
What can others learn from this project?
In the Philippines, government agencies are notorious for poor data management and collation. While complex and rich data sets may not always be available, sometimes basic data can be compelling enough to illustrate an important finding. On the ground, after seeing the extent of the measles outbreak and how it spread to nearly the entire Philippines, vaccination rates slowly saw an uptick.