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Wednesday, September 18, 2019
DAVAO

Oledan: No child left behind

THE country is in the midst of a growing measles crisis, with at least 70 deaths, mainly of children, in the past month. The easiest route would be for government officials to stick with their blame game and on with the tirade to escape any responsibility on the fate of children who are put into unnecessary risks.

Given the health risk that non-vaccination pose to children and the larger public, any responsible adult should at least go to the nearest public health center to have his or her child vaccinated.

There are exceptions, however, especially if we are to consider that at the height of the Dengvaxia deaths, there was no deliberate education and advocacy campaign to clear out any myths and misconceptions on the side-effects of vaccines.

The public only got to hear the denial and the grandstanding of those who could have known it better to step aside and do the serious work in continuing the work to improve public health practices and behavior.

During the whole time, what was only clearly communicated through television and the social media was on the danger that vaccination pose.

In many areas, especially in Mindanao, the access to appropriate health information remains to be wanting especially in far-flung areas where lack of health facilities, information, and services remain a reality.

What I am pointing out is not on the mere backlash against vaccinations but also on the failure to sustain health promotions and education work, including the need to reach out to a larger group of the populace who are at risk with the severe lack of information to make informed decisions.

Most of us turn to social media and online news sources to be informed but there are those who still lack the means to do so. And even translating information to knowledge and toward changes in health behavior could be a challenge.

This is to say that while health education and promotion should be a core competency of public health institutions and health providers, the private sector could also respond timely to any health crisis, and better through coordination and partnership with the public sector.

The move of the Davao Doctor's Hospital (DDH), for instance to offer free measles vaccination to the public augurs well in responding to avert the crisis.

Public health officials could better explore ways in tapping private institutions to do their share and also learn from each other on improving public health education. Coordination with barangay units and LGUs works best to encourage parents on the benefit of vaccination.

By collectively responding to the health crisis and ensuring that information is accessible, we ensure that no child is left behind.

Email comments to roledan@gmail.com


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