DOH: 10-year-old girl dies of diphtheria

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 26, 2019   •   344

A photomicrograph depicting a number of Gram-positive Corynebacterium diphtheriae bacteria. Source: CDC

The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday (September 24) confirmed that a 10-year-old grade schooler from Pandacan, Manila has died of diphtheria.

Based on the information from the Manila Health District, the student experienced fever last September 17 and subsequently suffered mouth sores as well as difficulty in breathing.

The student was only rushed to the hospital after three days.

She passed away on September 20, a few hours after she was diagnosed with diphtheria.

According to DOH Spokesperson Usec. Eric Domingo, the victim had not completed her vaccines when she was still an infant.

“The results came in today and positive iyong results. The case was really a case of diphtheria,” he said.

Domingo added the regional office immediately responded to the report and traced all the relatives and neighbors of the student to distribute antibiotics.

The Health Department said diphtheria is a bacteria that can be treated with antibiotics.

Its symptoms include fever, sore throat, and difficulty in breathing.

Children ages five are of higher risk of contracting the disease.

However, the DOH clarified that not everyone experiencing the symptoms has diphtheria so it is better to consult a specialist.

“Droplet infection siya na pwedeng ma-transmit (It is a droplet infection that can be transmitted). It’s also vaccine-preventable,” Domingo said.

The illness can also be prevented through Diphtheria Perthusis Tetanus which is administered to infants from six, 10, and 14 weeks old.

The DOH further warns that in case of a positive case of diphtheria in a community, such must be immediately reported to the local health center so that antibiotics may be given to everyone who had contact with the patient.—AAC (with reports from Mai Bermudez)

DOH halts implementation of e-cigarette, vaping regulations

Marje Pelayo   •   October 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has put on hold the implementation of its regulation on the use of e-cigarettes and vapes across the country.

According to the DOH, the decision was prompted by an injunction order issued by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court following a petition filed by e-cigarette companies.

The Department said e-cigarette firms are opposing the implementation of the regulation citing negative impacts on their income.

“Ayaw nilang mag-rehistro (They do not want to register),” said DOH spokesman Undersecretary Eric Domingo.

“Ayaw nilang ma-limit natin iyong nicotine content noong mga produkto, iyong volume na ibenta (They do not want to limit the products’ nicotine content and the volume),” he added.

Based on the administrative order issued by the DOH in June, all distributors, manufacturers, and sellers of e-cigarettes and vapes need to register to ensure that their use is properly regulated.

“Gusto natin may health warning. Gusto natin strictly kailangan ng ID (We want to include health warnings in the packaging. We strictly want an identification),” Domingo said.

“Hindi siya pwedeng ibenta sa mga menor de edad (They shouldn’t be sold to minors) and I think these are the things that the industry is trying to stop us from enforcing,” he added.

Based on DOH’s records, a total of 152 e-cigarette and vape manufacturers and retailers have already registered.

But the DOH is determined to stand by its regulation especially since the World Health Organization (WHO) has proven vapes’ harmful effects on human health.

“We are really very upset about this development but we will have to fight in the court for why we issued that administrative order,” Domingo noted.

Meanwhile, health experts are encouraging e-cigarettes and vape users to have themselves check as they might have developed illnesses associated with vaping.

Based on records of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food Drug Administration, 26 individuals have already died from a total of 1,300 cases of vaping-related illnesses.

“[That’s confirmed.] Therefore since [there are proofs] we have to do something about it,” Dr. Maria Encarnita Limpin, Secretary of the Philippine College of Physicians, concluded. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Mayor Isko eyes serving ‘newly improved’ Nutribun to public schoolchildren next year

Marje Pelayo   •   October 17, 2019

Manila Mayor Isko Domagoso

MANILA, Philippines – Mayor Isko Domagoso let elementary students in Rosauro Almario Elementary School (RAES) have the first taste of what he calls ‘newly improved’ Nutribun.

Domagoso is planning to revive the supplementary feeding program for public elementary school children that was first launched in the 70s under the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

“Disente. Naka-plastic. Maayos.  Iyong alam mong pinag-isipan, pinag-planuhan (It comes in plastic packaging. You’ll know it’s carefully designed and planned),” Domagoso said as he described the packaging of the bread.

“Medyo malambot na iyon. Pansinin mo. Hindi na makababasag ng panga. Noong araw kasi ang tigas niya. Lumalaban iyon na parang tsinelas (It’s softer now. Take a look. It’s no longer hard or rubbery),” he added.

The supplementary feeding program was launched between 1968 and 1970 in cooperation with the United States under the USAID Food for Peace program aimed at alleviating childhood malnutrition in the Philippines.

The program ended in 1997.

Nutribun, along with other food items, was served to public school children across the country for free.

On Wednesday, the local government of Manila together with the Philippine Society of Bakery (PSB) distributed nutrition-packed Nutribun coinciding with the World Bread Day.

(It has flour, soy, milk, butter and Vitamin C as well as Niacin, Riboflavin, and Vitamin A),” explained Jonathan Cabiles, PSB vice president, of the nutritional content of the bread.

According to Imelda Tubao, RAES’ school nurse, among the more than 8,000 school children in RAES, 446 are what they call “severely wasted” or described by UNICEF as ‘dangerously thin.’

Meanwhile, a total of 825 are considered ‘wasted’ or slightly undernourished. Most of their students come from poor families.

So far, the local government of Manila has selected students who are regular recipient of free breakfast.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD), meanwhile, has also been serving free lunch and free snacks to selected schools in Manila which needed nutritional assistance.

According to Tubao, the re-introduction of the nutribun program will definitely improve the students’ learning habits.

“Iyong brain niya umaandar kasi kailangan busog ang tiyan (The students’ brain will improve its function because the stomach is full),” she said.

“Attentive na siya sa pakikinig sa guro. Maiintindihan na niya yung lesson ni teacher at dagdag noon, hindi na siya a-absent (Students will be more attentive to understand the teachers’ lessons. Likewise, it will prevent them from skipping school),” she added.

Aside from its nutritional benefits, Mayor Isko said he decided to revive the Nutribun program because it means not just the bread but memories of his childhood.

“I’m a product of public education system. We were so excited to go to school simply because of this nutribun and Klim,” he said.

“Kapag humilata ka sa bahay tatamad tamad ka, nganga. Kapag sumokpa ka sa eskwelahan may tinapay ka tapos may Klim (If you’re lazy staying home, you’ll get nothing. But if you go to school, you’ll get bread and milk),” the Mayor added.

Mayor Isko targets to kick start the Nutribun supplementary food program by next year and will be implemented in all public schools across the city of Manila. – MNP (with reports from Bernard Dadis)

DOH advises travelers to receive polio vaccine before leaving, entering PHL

Robie de Guzman   •   October 11, 2019

A Filipino health worker displays polio vaccines inside a government-run health center in Manila, Philippines, 08 October 2019 (issued 11 October 2019). EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is urging all travelers to get immunized against polio before leaving and entering the Philippines, following a declaration of an outbreak of polio in the country.

In an advisory, the DOH encouraged foreign nationals and returning Filipinos of all ages, who are intending to stay in the Philippines for four weeks and more to receive a single dose of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) not later than four weeks before their scheduled travel to the Philippines.

This is if the traveler has not received polio vaccination in the last 12 months.

Those embarking on an urgent travel within four weeks are urged to get a single dose of IPV at least by the time of departure as this will still “provide benefits, particularly for frequent travelers.”

The DOH also advised travelers leaving the Philippines to check the immunization requirements of the country they are going to, and if required, receive a dose of IPV before departure.

They are also encouraged to get their International Certificate of Vaccination from the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) to serve as proof of their vaccination.

The advisory came weeks after the Philippines declared a type 2 polio outbreak following confirmed cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus.

The first case was a three-year old girl from Lanao del Sur while the second case was a five-year old boy from Laguna. The DOH also said the presence of poliovirus was also detected in collected sewage water samples from Manila and Davao.

The disease re-emerged 19 years after the country was declared polio-free.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease which spreads rapidly. It can cause paralysis and, on rare occasions, can be fatal.

The DOH said there is no cure for polio and it can only be prevented with multiple doses of polio vaccines that have long been proven safe and effective.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), polio mainly affects children under five years of age, and vaccination is their only and best protection against the highly infectious disease.

But if immunization activities are poorly conducted and too few children have received the required three doses of polio vaccine, the agency said this can leave them “susceptible to poliovirus, either from vaccine-derived or wild polioviruses.”

Although the risk of international spread of polio is low, the WHO said that the of transmission and recirculation of the Polio virus within the Philippines is high due to low population immunity.

The World Health Organization stated that the risk of international spread of Polio is low, however, the risk of transmission and recirculation of the Polio virus within the Philippines is high due to low population immunity.

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