Philippines begins polio vaccination campaign

Philippines vaccinations as polio returns

Philippines vaccinations as polio returns

Philippine health officials declared a polio outbreak in the country on Thursday, almost two decades after the World Health Organisation declared it to be free of the highly contagious and potentially deadly disease.

"These vaccines have always been used in the Philippines, proven safe and effective and are given for free in all Health Centers", the DOH-Davao said.

Also on Friday, the Health Department also signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Rotary International's 10 Districts to heighten polio awareness and vaccination campaign, as the latter will give support through fundraising, advocacy and volunteer recruitment.

"The polio vaccinations happen all year round, but our coverage dropped for the past five years", Rolando Enrique Domingo, an undersecretary of the Department of Health. Duque said his department will launch a mass vaccination campaign next month for children under age 5, starting in the Manila metropolis, Lanao del Sur and Davao, where the virus was detected.

The virus spreads rapidly among children, especially in unsanitary conditions in underdeveloped or war-torn regions where healthcare access is limited. It can cause paralysis and, on rare occasions, can be fatal.

A global effort to eradicate the disease has slashed infections from more than 350,000 cases in 1988 to just 33 previous year, according to World Health Organization data. At present, only three countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) have never stopped transmission of polio./. "As long as one single child remains infected, children across the country and even beyond are at risk of contracting polio", Unicef Philippines representative Oyun Dendevnorov said. They said the last known case from a wild strain of the virus in the Philippines was in 1993.

The Philippines in 2016 became the first nation to use Dengvaxia, the world's first dengue vaccine, in a country trial programme involving hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren. This comes following a WhatsApp message claiming that the pulse polio vaccine contained a deadly virus and the manufacturers had been arrested in Delhi.

The disclosure sparked a nationwide panic, with some parents alleging the vaccine killed their children, though a government-commissioned investigation found no conclusive proof that it did.