HIGHER COVERAGE

More residents expected to avail of polio vaccination in Davao, Mindanao

A barangay health worker opens a bottle of anti-polio vaccine. The Department of Health (DOH) prepares for the second round of the country’s anti-polio campaign dubbed “Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio” slated on November 25 in selected provinces and Luzon and in all cities and provinces of Mindanao. Lean Daval Jr

After the first round of polio vaccination campaign dubbed “Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio”, higher coverage and a smoother round two polio vaccination is expected this month.

The Mindanao-wide second round of polio vaccination is slated on November 25 to December 7.

The first round of vaccination held in Davao City, Davao del Sur, Lanao del Sur, and Marawi City last October 14 to 27 encountered some challenges in convincing residents to submit their children for immunization although the coverage was still within target.

Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, World Health Organization (WHO) representative in the Philippines, emphasized the need for high coverage of more than 95 percent in Mindanao.

“If children are unprotected we could possibly see a resurgent of polio. So if you want to break this transmission we have to work to very high coverage and this can be only achieve if all of other partners join hands together,” Abeyasinghe told media during a press conference held in Davao City on Tuesday.

According to Abeyansinghe, when DOH announced the outbreak of polio in September this year, they were deeply concerned about the situation.

WHO will pursue high coverage in many areas with an overall coverage of 96 percent during the round one of immunization.

HO will pursue high coverage in many areas with an overall coverage of 96 percent during the round one of immunization.

“For high coverage in Mindanao, 95 percent of children need to be vaccinated. I said the coverage in the Philippines last year was 66 percent and I believe Mindanao was much higher. In Davao City it was also higher.

In some areas in Mindanao like BARMM areas and Maguindanao in these areas we saw a very poor implementation of the campaign,” he added.

There had been some challenges in the first round of vaccination.
DOH Assistant Secretary Dr. Abdullah Dumama Jr, the first round of vaccination met various challenges in Davao City, including refusal to receive the vaccine from a religious sector and families residing in gated communities.

“In Davao City nahihirapan talaga kami. Unang-una mga religious sector na may refusal . Sa mga matataas na lugar in Davao City. Meron silang they call it “panon” or religious belief. Hindi sila mag receive. Konti lang sila pero ito ay malaking bagay,” Dumama said.

Dumama said barangay health workers are barred by security personnel to enter in the gated subdivisions in Davao City.

“Lahat dapat mag-receive ng polio vaccine pero ang nangyayari sa mga gated communities they only received polio vaccination from private medical practitioners daw. Kasi daw kompleto naman daw ang kanilang mga anak bakit pa bibigyan. Pagdating sa security guards hindi makakapasok ang ating mga brangay health workers at mga bakunadors natin,” he added.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said despite having problems in penetrating the gated communities, Davao City is still 100 percent coverage in terms of children who received the polio vaccine.

To achieve high coverage, Duque III instructed the Centers for Health Development get a regular feedback or report of the immunization being done by the private physicians.

He advised to directly connect with the Philippine Pediatric Society component chapters here in Mindanao.

He ordered that all pediatricians must cover 10 percent of all children for every province or city and how much of the total population of children below five years old must be covered by them.

“May mga ginagawa namin we coordinate with pediatric society for private patients para alamin namin kung puwede na puntahan or sila na talaga magpapatak sa kanila. We also give regional directors targets and urged private pediatricians to have 10 percent target para ma-cover namin yung hindi na-cover na mga bata,” Dumama said.

Abeyasinghe is expecting a more challenging round two because it will cover the whole targeted are in Mindanao and the island of Sulu.
“Because these areas are sometimes difficult to access. We have other challenges we experienced in the outbreaks in some of the areas so we are working together with DOH regional health departments and UNICEF to ensure we have high coverage,” he said.

According to him to achieve high coverage the Local Government Units (LGUs) must create a monthly vaccination and full compliance of this Patak Polio campaign.

For the longer term, he said after the transmission of polio is interrupted LGUs need to ensure that routine immunization program are fully functional and everybody has access.

“The ultimate aim is to restore every high level of coverage in the campaign,” he said.