DOH region 9 clarifies no confirmed poliovirus in Zamboanga Peninsula

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 24, 2019   •   271

The Department of Health region 9 has clarified that there is no confirmed case of poliovirus in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Out of the 15 specimens examined at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), eight were tested negative of the poliovirus while the health department is still waiting for the results of the seven remaining specimens.

“Ang ginagawa kasi natin, nagkakaroon tayo ng surveillance sa mga kaso na may acute flaccid paralysis ibig sabihin mayroong sudden onset ng mga paghihina (What we are doing, we had a surveillance of cases with acute flaccid paralysis meaning there is a sudden onset of fatigue),” according to DOH 9 Regional Director Dr. Emilia Monicimpo.

Monicimpo hopes the region will remain polio-free. However, the official said there are some areas who are skeptical of having vaccinated due to the Dengvaxia controversy.

The DOH advises the public to maintain good hygiene so as not to get contracted with polio.

“Practice good hand washing all the time and panatilihin na iyong tubig na iniinom ay malinis at ang pagkain na kinakain ay malinis at naluto ng maigi siya (make sure you’re drinking and eating are clean),” Monicimpo said.—AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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)

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.

DOH signs IRR of Universal Health Care Law

Freema Gloria   •   October 10, 2019

Patients receive medical attention inside a hospital in the town of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat province. EPA-EFE/JEOFFREY MAITEM

The Department of Health (DOH) has signed the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Universal Health Care Law.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III led the signing of the IRR of the UHC law or the Republic Act 11223 which was witnessed by various health sectors.

The said historical event marks the implementation of the UHC law following its publication.

Under the Universal Health Care law, all Filipinos will be automatic members of Philhealth as direct or indirect contributors and will equally benefit from the no balance billing (NBB) once they have been admitted to the hospitals’ basic or ward accommodation.

Secretary Duque stated, the implementation of the said law will be gradual due to budget constraints.

At least P257 billion will be the required fund for its first-year implementation, yet only P167 billion has been approved.

By the year 2020 to 2024, the department will be needing more than P1- trillion fund for the operation of universal health care.

Duque added that the Philhealth premium rates will increase by 0.25% per year from its current 2.75%.

Philhealth, on its part, will consider giving new benefits for those who are paying their contributions which will be different from the beneficiaries of the Universal Health Care Act. — FSG (from the report of Nel Maribojoc)

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