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Millions at risk in Philippines measles outbreak

Red Cross is waging a mighty battle in the Philippines to counter a deadly measles outbreak which has claimed more than 310 lives so far this year, a toll that's climbing daily.

Deaths from measles are already 56 percent higher this year than for all of last year.  At the same time another more than 21,400 people are sick. It is estimated that 3.7 million children under five have never been vaccinated and have no protection to the highly contagious virus.

A mass campaign is now underway to vaccine all children aged six months to five years.

Philippine Red Cross, with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has been working with the Department of Health to support patients and their families. Red Cross has set up tents to care for patients and is helping vaccinate, educate and warn communities about symptoms and what they can do.

Australian Red Cross communications delegate Susan Cullinan, just back from the Philippines, spoke to some of the parents caught up in the outbreak. This is what they said:

"With experts warning that the outbreak could last for months, potentially not stabilising until May, many more lives are at risk. This is a preventable tragedy. We have no time to lose and no time to be complacent," says Head of the IFRC Philippines Country Chris Staines.