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Rough Cuts: Delivering health services

There was a very animated yet informative sharing of opinion and recommendations on the proposal of the Department of Health (DOH) to the Department of Education (DepEd) to come up with a policy mandating for a “No Vaccination No Enrolment” for school children in public schools.
This happened during last Friday’s edition of the “Ano’ng Say N’yo” segment of the morning Radio-TV Program of GMA Network hosted by Joel Reyes Zobel and aired nationwide. The question raised by host Zobel is whether the public agree to the proposal or not and why. At the end of the program the result that came out is that only 30 percent of callers supported the proposal while those who disagreed constituted 70 percent.
What made the sharing and its subsequent discussion animating is that all the callers were so passionate in defending their positions. What made it more informative is that all the justifications and recommendations of the participating callers were relevant and worthy of adoption by the government.
In other words, it turns out that good ideas are not monopolies of the so-called experts in government. That is, if there are religious and more massive consultations with stakeholders, the policy makers of government can have a bottomless repository of relevant ideas to make programs and policies of government acceptable by the general public.
We also noticed that all those who were against the proposal to adopt a “No Vaccine No Enrolment” Policy were one in saying that adopting and imposing such to public schools would-be enrollees is against the constitutionally-guaranteed right of citizens to education.
One caller from Samar, in fact, shared his view that if such policy is adopted it will only give reason to parents not to send their children to school. But he added saying that there can be other ways to “coerce” the parents to have their children vaccinated especially with anti-measles. And he was referring to the grant of a fixed monthly amount to each qualified family under the 4 Ps program of the government.
The caller from Samar recommended that instead of denying unvaccinated children of school age enrolment in public schools the government can pressure the parents to have their kids injected by warning them their 4Ps cash grant may be withheld. (We heard of reports this was already done in Davao City’s Marilog district few months ago. We do not know if the City Health Office will confirm this.)
Meanwhile, those who believe in the effectiveness of such a policy to get more children vaccinated think that the government has the responsibility of ensuring the health of its people. And one such intervention is by launching massive vaccination programs to arrest occurrence of illnesses like measles developing into an epidemic proportion.
The pro “No Vaccination No Enrolment” policy adoption insisted that the government has the right to find means it could effectively do its responsibility. And one such strategy is to adopt policies that may appear coercive but in the end, will result to the greater good of the greater number of Filipinos especially the future generation.
There was however, one very novel idea that came out of the sharing. It was the recommendation of one caller to apply the old adage “If Mohammad cannot go to the mountain, then let the mountain come to Mohammad.”
Translated simply, the proponent of the idea was recommending that during enrolment days health workers must be in the public schools to conduct anti-measles vaccination. Should there be parents or guardians who would not allow their kids vaccinated they must sign a waiver to relieve the government of responsibility once the children get sick in possible future illness epidemics.
But as stated, it is still a policy proposal that is subject to study by the DepEd. We hope some officials of the education agency were able to view and listen to that lively exchange of ideas over GMA News TV. They might have gotten useful inputs from that program segment.

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We are not sure if some officials from the City health Office (CHO) were able to read our item on this space about the cancelled schedule of the second dose of anti-cervical cancer vaccination in a barangay in Tugbok District. In that article many village residents came to us to inquire whether we have knowledge when the schedule for the second dose be pushed through after the original one sometime last November of 2018 was postponed due to a reported measles outbreak in another Tugbok barangay. Unfortunately for the complaining mothers, we have no idea.
But last Thursday, February 21, in the afternoon, the barangay health center personnel received an advice from the CHO that the second dose of the vaccine was already set for injection. The schedule? The day after, or Friday, February 22.
Wow, that was fast and did not leave enough time to disseminate the information to parents who live in outlying villages that require hours of walking before reaching the health center. Even the delivery of the information to the parents of concerned children may not reach the areas on time.
And to think that the vaccination activity was only until 12 noon of last Friday!
What kind of health service delivery was that?

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