By Bonita Ermac
MARAWI CITY – Health Secretary Francisco T. Duquee III spearheaded Lanao del Sur’s province-wide Synchronized Polio Immunization Campaign or the “Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio” kick-off ceremony on October 14 at the Social Hall, Provincial Capitol Complex, Marawi City.
The immunization campaign, which will last until October 27, is targeting the vaccination of 134,411 children aged below five years old across 39 municipalities.
The campaign is being held with the support of the Department of Health (DOH), the World Health Organization (WHO), and United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
“The polio outbreak is a wakeup call for the Philippines. We need to act now to protect children against polio and other vaccine preventable diseases through immunization”, said acting WHO representative in the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe.
“To stop this outbreak, we aim to reach nearly two million children within two weeks”, he said.
He added that polio was highly infectious and potentially fatal disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death in a matter of hours. There is no cure for polio. However, it can be prevented through safe and effective vaccines.
“Every child under 5 years old in these priority areas need to be vaccinated now”, said UNICEF Philippines representative Oyun Dendevnorov, who added that there was no alternative to protect children from the risk of polio than vaccinating them.
“The polio vaccine is safe and effective. UNICEF is working with WHO to support DOH meet the country’s immunization targets” said Oyun.
Provincial governor Mamintal ‘Bombit’ Adiong, Jr., emphasized that with the recent announcement of a polio outbreak, the Lanao del Sur government has been hard at work to prepare for the polio campaign.
“We cannot do this alone, we need the support of the entire community to reach every child,” Adiong said.
Duque called on everyone to participate and “work hand-in-hand and side-by-side to bring health to all Filipinos.”
“I am confident that through our concerted efforts we will accomplish our targets as we, Filipinos, are known by our bayanihan spirit,” he said.