By Frances Mae G. Macapagat
DAVAO CITY, November 12 (PIA) – Health experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) commended the Department of Health (DOH) for hitting high coverage of immunization to children aged 0 to 59 months thru its campaign Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio.
“ In such a short period of time since a polio outbreak was declared in the Philippines, the synchronized polio vaccination that started in October went successful. The coverage is very high. This is brought by the tireless work of the health workers,” UNICEF Country Representative for the Philippines Dr. Oyunsaihan Dendevnorov said in a press conference held earlier today in Davao City.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced that the collective turn-out of the Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio that was piloted in Davao City, Davao del Sur, Lanao del Sur, Marawi City, and some parts of the National Capital Region reached 96 percent of its target.
“However, we need to remind certain LGUs in about 5 to 7 communities in Lanao del Sur which continue to have low immunization coverage. This is quite alarming. Although we understand that some of these areas are Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA),” Secretary Duque stressed.
Following the Round 1 that rolled-out in selected areas in Region 11, 12, and NCR, the DOH is now set for its Round 2 Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio scheduled to start on November 25 to December 7, 2019 which now covers the entire Mindanao targeting 3.1 million children.
The WHO helped the DOH in attaining high coverage by supporting the planning and coordination efforts done by health workers on the ground.
WHO’s Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe highly emphasized the need to achieve high immunization coverage as this is the best possible way to break the polio outbreak.
“ It should be emphasized to the people that this polio virus has no cure. The only way we can break the outbreak is when we achieve high coverage,” said Abeyasinghe.
The DOH, however, presented some of the challenges encountered by the department especially through its health workers.
“ One is the problem on terrain. Our health workers would have to walk far just so to reach target barangays and target children for vaccination. Another is the logistics support which was frequently addressed and provided for by the local government units,” Dumama said.
Another source of difficulty encountered during the Sabayang Patak vaccination as raised in urban areas such as Davao City is the non-cooperation of mother in gated communities.
Duque immediately called the Center for Health Development (CHD) to plan effective coordination and planning which includes working with private pediatricians to ensure vaccination of these children against polio disease.
Inorder to prepare the start of the campaign Round 2, the DOH gathered Mindanao mayors and governor and Muslim leaders in a meeting held earlier today in Davao City.
The DOH recognizes that the campaign cannot be successful without the help of local government units.
For the Round 1 done in 2 provinces, the DOH spent P13 million while an estimate of P380 million is being allocated for the Mindanao-wide polio vaccination.
The WHO also emphasized the need to convince mothers or parents to have their child aged 0 to 59 months receive anti-Polio shots even if their child already received immunization in the past. (PIA/Frances Mae Macapagat)