DOH urges LGUs: Give anti-polio drive a leg up

THE Department of Health (DOH) Central Visayas is urging the local government units (LGUs) to do a “map up” and “catch up” vaccination in their own localities to improve the coverage of polio vaccination.

Poliomyelitis or polio, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is a highly infectious viral disease which mainly affects children.

The virus is transmitted person-to-person and spread mainly through the fecal-oral route. It can also spread through contaminated water or food.

As of Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (Resu), Central Visayas Center for Health Development (CVCHD) recorded a total of 23 cases (from Jan. 1 to Sept. 28) of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) with one death, in the region. This is 9.5 percent higher compared to the same period last year with 21 cases and one death.

AFP, as defined by WHO, is a sudden onset of paralysis/weakness in any part of the body of a child less than 15 years of age.

To achieve polio eradication, the World Health Organization recommends that countries conduct surveillance for cases of AFP.

Among the recorded 23 AFP cases in Central Visayas, 16 were discarded as non-polio, while seven are still pending classification.

According to Mark Gil Zafra, Vaccine Preventable Disease Surveillance Officer, six of the seven AFP cases pending classification were sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Manila. They have yet to get a specimen of the seventh case.

“These were sent last Sept. 27 and it usually takes two weeks before coming up with a result,” he said.

Vaccination status showed that 18 of them received three doses of oral polio vaccines (OPV); one received two doses of OPV; one received one dose, while the three had no vaccination history.

Dr. Van Phillip Baton, Medical Officer III, DOH-CVCHD, said polio cases were eliminated in the country in 2000.

The Philippines has lost its polio-free status when a three-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur was found to have contracted polio virus this year, the first confirmed case since 2000.

Baton asked the public to practice good hygiene, proper preparation and proper nutrition against polio.

“Even with a polio-free status, we did not stop our polio vaccination. It’s better if we err on the side of caution. Even though there’s a vaccine, it would be less effective if the child is malnourished,” he said.


Meanwhile, the DOH also called on mothers, with newborn, to avail themselves of the implemented expanded newborn screening (ENS), a procedure which detects inherited disorders.

Based on the 2018 record of the Newborn Screening Center (NSC)-Visayas, Cebu was leading in the number of confirmed positive cases of inherited disorders in Central Visayas, with a total of 289 recorded positive cases.

It was followed by Bohol with 81 cases; Negros Oriental 49 cases, and Siquijor with eight cases.

“Among the common and leading disorders detected during newborn screening are endocrine disorders such as congenital hypothyroidism and congenital adrenal hyperplasia,” said Jaika Jel Besira, Program Development Officer III. (WBS)


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