LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – The Department of Health said unless Bicolanos improve their hygiene practices and increase their immunization coverage, the region could be the next area to be afflicted with the polio disease.
Dr. Monrey Mancilla, DOH Immunization Program chief in Bicol said it was now the region’s turn to immunize the children who are most vulnerable to this vaccine-preventable illness.
DOH is targeting vaccinating 125,000 Bicolano kids between ages zero to 59 months old or less than 5 years old.
The vaccine is free and is administered in 3 scheduled doses.
“Bicol region is high risk on polio re-emergence due to multiple factors, such as low immunization coverage; poor environmental practices. That’s why we’re calling the LGUs, municipal health offices and barangay officials for comprehensive and proactive involvement approach of all private and government agencies,” he said.
Polio or poliomyelitis is a highly contagious disease caused by poliovirus invading the nervous system. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiff neck, and sudden onset of floppy arms or legs. In severe cases, it can lead to permanent paralysis or even death. Children below 5 years old are most vulnerable to the disease.
The DOH has recorded 4 cases of polio in the Philippines since the outbreak of the disease was declared in September. Up until these cases, the Philippines was free from polio for 19 years. The first two cases reported in September were from Lanao del Sur and Laguna – while a 3rd case in Maguindanao was reported in October. DOH said the 4th case this month was also in Mindanao.
Dr. Ernie V. Vera, DOH Bicol regional director said: “We are reminding the public to practice good personal hygiene by washing hands regularly after use of toilets, before preparing foods or eating; to use sanitary toilets, to drink sate water and to cook food thoroughly.”
Vera added: “We call on all parents especially those with children under 5 years old who has not received the complete doses required to avail from health centers the oral polio vaccines (OPV) and the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) for this is the only way to stop the spread of polio.
The health department in Bicol called on the local government units in the region to identify areas or households with incomplete or unavailable sanitary toilet facilities. – Rappler.com
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