Public urged to join DOH vaccination program as polio re-emerges in PHL

Robie de Guzman   •   September 19, 2019   •   243

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday called on the public to join in the government’s synchronized vaccination program on polio following confirmation of its re-emergence in the country.

Duque said one polio case was confirmed in a 3-year old girl from Lanao del Sur.

A suspected case of acute flaccid paralysis is also awaiting confirmation, he added.

Based on the results of the child’s examination, she is suffering from vaccine-derived polio virus type 2.

The DOH chief also said that poliovirus has been detected in water sewage samples taken from Manila and Davao during a regular environmental surveillance.

The samples were tested by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and verified by the Japan National Institute for Infectious Diseases and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The health secretary said the Philippines has been declared polio-free in the last 19 years and its re-emergence in two different locations already suggests an epidemic.

“A single confirmed polio case of vaccine-derived polio virus type 2 (VDPV2) or two positive environmental samples that are genetically linked isolated in two different locations is considered an epidemic in a polio free country,” Duque said.

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.

In response, the government will launch a series of synchronized oral polio immunization program for children under the age of five in areas at risk beginning next month.

The health chief urged parents and guardians to protect their children from the disease by fully participating in the program.

“We strongly urge parents, health workers and local governments to fully participate in the synchronized polio vaccination. It is the only way to stop the polio outbreak and to protect your child against this paralyzing disease,” he said. 

DOH said it will also work closely with local government units and concerned agencies in implementing rapid response to the polio outbreak with the help of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The department will also work with partners to strengthen environmental and Acute Flaccid Paralysis surveillance throughout the country to detect poliovirus.

“Aside from immunization, we remind the public to practice good personal hygiene, wash their hands regularly, use toilets, drink safe water, and cook food thoroughly,” he said.

Cayetano: Amid challenges, PH all set for SEA Games

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 16, 2019

Amid challenges, House of Representatives (HOR) Speaker Alan Cayetano said the country is all set for the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) which will be held from November 30 to December 11.

“Overall, we are hundred percent ready. Now ang challenges natin ang day to day (Now, the challenges will be the day-to-day [activities]),” he said during a press conference on Wednesday (October 16) at New Clark City in Tarlac.

Cayetano along with other lawmakers, including Senator Bong Go and HOR’s Committee on Youth and Sports, conducted an inspection of the facility.

However, Cayetano admitted they will still encounter problems because of the budget cut from P7.5 billion to P5 billion this year.

The House Speaker said they can still make ends meet through volunteers and sponsors.

“Pinupunuan ng volunteers iyong pagkukulang natin sa mga paid workers (Volunteers are filling in for our shortcomings to the paid workers),” Cayetano said.

The SEA Games will feature 56 sports or around 500 events. Sixty percent of these events will be held at the New Clark City.—AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

Indonesian Navy warships arrive in PH for goodwill visit

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 16, 2019

Two Indonesian vessels arrived at Alava Pier in Olongapo City on Tuesday (October 15) for a goodwill visit to the Philippines.

The ships, Bung Tomo-class corvette KRI John Lie (358) and SIGMA-class corvette KRI Frans Kaisiepo (368) will remain in the country until October 18.

The visit aims to establish diplomatic relations and promote Indonesian culture and tourism.

“The visiting navy personnel will engage their Filipino counterparts during confidence-building activities such as shipboard tour, reciprocal receptions, and friendly games,” according to the Philippine Navy.

It is the second goodwill visit of Indonesian Navy to the country this year following the arrival of their training ship KRI Bima Suci last August.—AAC

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

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