The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday (June 11) declared the end of polio outbreak in the Philippines.
In a joint statement, the WHO lauded the efforts of the Department of Health (DOH), other government agencies and civil society in ending the outbreak.
The DOH announced a polio outbreak in the country in September 2019, after 19 years of being polio-free. On June 3, the department officially concluded its polio outbreak response.
WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra abeyasinghe said the closure of the polio outbreak is due to the combined efforts of medical frontliners, strong community efforts, and government response.
“This is a major win for public health and is an excellent example of what collective efforts can attain, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
“We look forward for these efforts to be sustained for a strong and resilient immunization system, utilizing the investments made for polio outbreak response and COVID-19 vaccination to ensure all children are protected from vaccine preventable diseases as the Philippines moves towards achieving Universal Health Care,” he added.
Both WHO and UNICEF assisted through vaccine procurement and delivery, development of immunization guidelines, and social mobilization.
“The success of the polio immunization in the Philippines is proof that when we come together for children, great things happen. UNICEF celebrates all the vaccine champions and partners who made this possible. We must keep the momentum and accelerate routine immunization and safeguard essential child health services while rolling out COVID-19 vaccines for priority groups,” according to UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov. AAC