The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the eighth case of polio in the country was a nine-year-old girl from Basilan.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases has validated the condition of the victim.
“The latest confirmed case is a nine-year-old girl from Basilan who has not received any vaccine for polio,” Duque said in an announcement, as the DOH started the third round of polio vaccination program in Metro Manila and Mindanao.
“We are now coordinating with Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao – Ministry of Health to maximize immunization coverage and intensify polio vaccination effort in Basilan,” he added.
The health department aims to cover 1.27 million children in Metro Manila and some 5.2 million in Mindanao.
The polio vaccination campaign was set to immunize children age 5 years old, regardless of whether they already received the booster or not.
The DOH will provide a dose of oral polio vaccine (OPV) until December 7.
DOH assures public of enough OPV
Meanwhile, Duque said they have enough OPV for the vaccination program.
“We are convincing parents to let their children have a complete vaccination against this fatal disease… No investment is needed, except to walk to the health centers or pay a small fare to make sure that their children are protected,” he said.
Then, he also warned that while children five years old and below are at most at risk to polio, still, it is possible that older ones may contract the virus.
According to Duque, active surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), which can be caused by polio, prompted the discovery of the recent case.
“What we’re seeing today is result of heightened and much more improved surveillance capability of RITM, DOH and Bureau of Quarantine,” the health secretary said.
He also added that, although the mass vaccination drive prioritizes children 5-year-old below, he assured that health workers will also accommodate older children once they submitted for immunization.
PRC joins DOH
The DOH is working on the implementation of the vaccination activities against polio with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), which sends out personnel to attend to a minimum of 100,000 children.
PRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said trained staff and volunteers from their department have also been deployed in different parts of Metro Manila and Mindanao for the second round of “Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio” held from November 25 to December 7.
He added that vaccinators would visit houses to make sure that every child will be given OPV.
Last month, the PRC group reached a sum of 62, 843 children, exceeding its 30,000 initial target.