Philippines: Re-emergence of vaccine preventable diseases (polio) – Final Report, DREF Operation n° MDRPH032

Situation Report
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Description of the disaster

On 19 September 2019, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the re-emergence of polio (vaccine-derived poliovirus-VDPV) in the Philippines and declared a national polio outbreak, in accordance with international health regulations. It was declared after environmental samples taken in Davao City and Metro Manila tested positive, and a human case of circulating VDPV polio was reported in Mindanao. This was quickly followed by a second case of human infection in Laguna province, southeast of Manila. The re-emergence occurred almost 20 years after the Philippines was declared polio-free in 2000 and the last case of wild poliovirus was recorded in 1993.

The declaration of a polio outbreak followed a confirmed Vaccine Derived Poliovirus Type 2 (VDPV2) case in a three-year old child in Lanao de Sur (Mindanao) reported on 16 September 2019. Subsequently, another VDPV2 case of polio was confirmed on 20 September, this time in a five-year-old boy who was immunocompromised from Laguna which is adjacent to Metro Manila.

There have been no new polio cases reported after 15 February 2020.

The resurgence of polio in the Philippines came as the DOH and other partners were responding to outbreaks of dengue and measles. According to the Philippines Epidemiological Overview 2020 as of 8 February 2020, between 1 January to 8 February 2020, there were 25,502 cases of dengue and 38 deaths reported, as well as 1,433 cases of measles and 12 deaths1 An increasing number of cases of diphtheria were also reported, with the DOH confirming 167 cases and 40 deaths in 2019 compared to 122 cases and 30 deaths in 2018. Furthermore, since January 2020, the country has been wrestling with the continuing spread of COVID-19.

All these health emergencies occurred concurrently while the government and its partners were responding to natural disasters in the country: the earthquakes in Mindanao (MDRPH036) in October 2019, the Typhoon Kammuri (MDRPH037) in November 2019, followed by Typhoon Phanfone (MDRPH038) in December 2019, and the eruption of Taal Volcano (MDRPH039) in January 2020