Full mobilization: DOH seeks aid from other agencies to stamp out polio

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2019 08:49 AM

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The Department of Health said Friday it was seeking the assistance of other agencies for an immunization drive against polio, after the Philippines recently recorded its first cases of the crippling disease in 2 decades.

Polio, which can cause paralysis and even death and has no cure, was detected recently in sewage water samples from Manila and the southern city of Davao. The highly infectious disease struck a 5-year-old boy in Laguna, a province near the capital, and a 3-year-old girl in Lanao del Sur.

The DOH will convene with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Friday morning.

"Hihingi kami ng tulong dahil 'pag nag-start po tayo ng supplemental immunization sa polio, lalong-lalo na po sa Mindanao ang pinakauna... ang strategy po dito kailangan mabilisan saka lahat ng bata mapatakan [ng bakuna]," Health Undersecretary and Spokesperson Eric Domingo told radio DZMM.

"Hindi naman po kaya ng DOH lamang," he added.

(We will ask for help because when we start our supplemental immunization against polio, especially in Mindanao, the strategy here is that we need to be fast and the oral vaccine needs to be given to all children. The DOH can't do it alone.)

The health department, he said, will also seek the assistance of the uniformed personnel, and the education and social welfare departments.

The Philippines risks having more cases of polio unless it sharply steps up its vaccinations of children under 5 years of age, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

Immunization coverage in the Philippines for oral polio vaccines is 66 percent, but needs to be at 95 percent, said WHO's Philippine representative Rabindra Abeyasingh. Just 40 percent of children under 5 have received a polio vaccine by injection.

Aside from polio, the DOH also conducted a vaccination drive in Manila after a 10-year-old student there died of diphtheria, said Domingo.

Diphtheria is a bacterial infection that primarily infects the throat and upper airways and can cause myocarditis or peripheral neuropathy in severe cases, according to the World Health Organization.

Those who came in close contact with the diphtheria patient in Manila were also given antibiotics, Domingo said. With a report from Reuters

DZMM, September 27, 2019