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3-M Mindanao kids targetted for 2nd round anti-polio drive

The Department of Health (DOH) aims  to target over three million children in Mindanao for the second round of the massive polio immunization.

According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, they also aim to surpass the recent coverage of the first polio immunization.

“Hopefully, the result of the round two will be more successful than how we have performed during the round one, where collectively, the average performance in the actual coverage over the target we already reached 96%,” he said during a press conference on Tuesday at the Waterfront Insular Hotel.

He said the high immunization rate in NCR, Davao del Sur, Marawi City, and Davao City contributed “immensely” to the 96% coverage. However, Lanao del Sur still has very low coverage of children who received the Oral Polio Vaccination (OPV) during the first round. He described the situation as “quite alarming.”

“We understand that some of the areas constituting this relatively low coverage are considered geographically isolated areas and difficult to access areas – over population groups are rather mobile. So at the time when we did the Patak Polio drive, they were not there to receive the vaccine,” he also said.

Recent reports from DOH revealed that the fourth case of polio in an unspecified area in Mindanao.

The Round 2 of the Mindanao-wide Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio will cover all children five years old and below. They will each receive one dose of Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) and three doses of OVP to ensure the protection of children from the polio virus.

“I call upon everyone to support as in this endeavor and this is for the protection of our children’s health. We leaders, of the national government agencies as well as the local government units, must bond together to ensure an extremely successful campaign and comeback of our Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio,” he said.

Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary of Health Abdullah B. Dumama Jr. cited the challenges and struggles that they experienced during the first round of the immunization drive, which included the terrain in some areas, the lack of toilets, the weather, and refusal of certain sectors to the vaccination. Also, health workers and volunteer groups could not penetrate conflict-affected areas.

“The walking that the health workers took under the unbearable heat of the sun is also a factor, and I commend them for their hard work. We also need to make sure that every health workers is provided with the necessary support, such as the logistics,” he said.

Dumama also said that some religious sectors are still resistant to the polio immunization.

“We have formed a technical working group to make sure this will be addressed. We went to them and talked to them already to convince them to cooperate in the polio vaccination” he also said.

He also said that they allotted P383 million for the campaign in which P13-million is set aside for Davao City and Davao del Sur alone.

The DOH also coordinated with the pediatricians and the Philippine Pediatrics Society to assist them in the campaign. “They can perform the vaccination to their private patients.”

Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the World Health Organization representative to the Philippines, lauded the efforts of the health workers, different stake holders, and the local government units, for the first round of the polio immunization drive.

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