Environmental samples in Manila, Davao tested positive for poliovirus

Maris Federez   •   September 23, 2019   •   342

The Department of Health on Monday (September 23) confirmed that the environmental samples from the sewage system of Manila and Davao City have tested positive for the poliovirus.

This is aside from the two cases of polio infection that hit two children in Lanao del Sur and Laguna.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said the vaccine-derived polio type or VPD2 is not a new strain of the virus that hit the country, although, he added, it already slightly mutated.

“However, iyong vaccine na derived na polio pagka continuous siya nagsi-circulate nakakain-naidudumi, nakakain–naidudumi every year may small percentage ng mutation doon sa vaccine-derived poliovirus na less than 1 percent per year,” Domingo said.

The DOH said that although the country has only confirmed two cases of poliovirus infection and two contaminated environmental samples, this should already be a cause for concern and parents must be alarmed. 

Poliovirus may be transmitted thru human feces that is why the DOH has issued a public reminder of maintaining environmental sanitation to prevent the disease from spreading.

“Oral fecal route ang infection ng polio. Makakain mo lang siya, maiinfect ang isang tao. Kung iyong dumi na infected maaaring mapunta sa water, for example, o sa food ay maingest ng mga bata,” Domingo said.

Domingo also reminded the public that children under the age of five are at high risk of getting infected by the poliovirus. (from the report of Mai Bermudez) /mbmf

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)

Day 1 of door-to-door polio vaccination in Manila yields 35,000 vaccinees

Maris Federez   •   October 16, 2019

A child receives an oral polio vaccine from Red Cross volunteers during a vaccination program by the UNICEF at a public school building turned into a temporary evacuation center in the super typhoon devastated city of Tacloban, Leyte province, Philippines, 26 November 2013. EPA/DENNIS M. SABANGAN

More than 35,000 children in Manila benefitted from the door-to-door vaccination against poliovirus conducted by the Manila Health Department (MHD) on Tuesday (October 15).

This is out of the 95,000 children that the city targets to administer the vaccines to.

MHD chief Dr. Arnold Pangan said the extensive campaigning they conducted helped a lot in convincing the parents to have their children inoculated with the vaccine.

“Una, ‘yung nag-declare na ang DOH ng outbreak. Pangalawa, naging massive ang campaign natin,” Dr. Pangan said.

Barangay health workers were also satisfied with the cooperation of the parents in their respective areas.

“Pag nandyan na kami, lalabas na sila. Hindi katulad nung nakaraan na talagang sapilitan kami. Nanghaharang kami, ganun (As soon as we arrived, they’re already there. Unlike in the past, we really had to force them),” said barangay health worker Virginia Bornilla.

Despite the large number of children inoculated with the polio vaccine on the first day, the local government of Manila admits that it is still a challenge for them to convince the parents who still have fear to have their children vaccinated.

“May mga nanay pa rin na (There are still mothers who are), in a way, pessimistic, right? Apprehensive, hesitant para bakunahan ‘yung mga anak nila (for their children to get vaccinated). Doon pa rin ang nagiging problema, ‘yung Dengvaxia issue (The dengvaxia issue is still where the problem lies),” said Pangan.

“Kukulitin namin, papaliwanagin paulit-ulit. Maaaring hindi namin nabakunahan ngayong araw, bukas, kukulitin ka namin,” he added.

(We will just have to bug them, explain to them repeatedly. We may have been not able to have your child vaccinated today, but tomorrow we will bug you again.)

Pangan further said that they utilized all health workers in the 57 health centers in Manila in doing the door-to-door vaccination project.

The MHD expects to have the door-to-door activity completed within the week. (from the report of Harlene Delgado) /mbmf

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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