THE Duterte government will do its best to stop the spread of polio in the Philippines, Malacañang assured the public on Friday, September 20.
"Of course, we want to reverse this trend. Nakakabahala na after 19 years nagkaroon tayo ng findings of the presence of polio here," Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a media interview.
"Alam po natin na lubhang nakakahawa po ang polio virus especially among children. So kailangang bilisan natin yung actions natin to stop this and to reverse it (We all know that polio virus is highly contagious, especially among children. So we need to take prompt actions to stop this and to reverse it)," he added.
The Department of Health declared a polio epidemic on Thursday, September 19, following the confirmed case of the disease in a three-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur.
The poliovirus has also been detected in water sewage samples in Tondo, Manila and in Davao City.
Nograles said the re-emergence of the highly contagious disease in the country might be raised in the next Cabinet meeting. The Philippines was declared polio-free in 2000.
He said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III would likely present possible measures aimed at controlling the polio outbreak.
"We might take it up sa next Cabinet meeting," Nograles said in a media interview.
"But even before the Cabinet meeting, may mga hakbang ng ginagawa ang Department of Health (The Department of Health are taking some steps), which Secretary Duque will be presenting to the Cabinet," he added.
Polio is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system. Children younger than five years old are more likely to contract the virus.
Signs and symptoms include fever, sore throat, headache, vomiting, and fatigue, loss of reflexes, severe spasms and muscle pain, and loose and floppy limbs.
Severe cases can lead to suddent paralysis or even death.
Nograles said the executive branch is ready to help Duque's agency to make the country polio-free again.
"Kung meron man kaming maitutulong sa Secretary of Health (If there's something we can do to help the Sevretary of Health), then we'll be ready to assist him in whatever way," the Palace official said.
Earlier, Duque warned that the country was at "high risk for poliovirus transmission," following the drop in oral polio vaccine coverage in the past years.
Nograles encouraged parents to have their children vaccinated at the mass polio immunization program the Health department would launch in October.
"The Department of Health has its hand full in pushing and promoting again yung immunization against polio and all other sicknesses," he said.
"Alam naman natin na libre naman yung bakuna na binibigay ng Department of Health (The vaccines from the DOH are free). It's just a matter of convincing the parents, their families, the children na magpabakuna (to be vaccinated)," he added. (SunStar Philippines)