With over a year in the pandemic, it is not only our lifestyle that has been changed, but also the way we manage our health systems. You have seen in the news how hospitals were fully occupied. Furthermore, you have seen how the health workers are working in full rotation. However, the challenging situation of the health sector today did not hinder our health workers towards achieving a polio-free Philippines.
In the course of 16 months, the Department of Health together with the efforts of the government agencies and partners as well as the civil society has made extensive immunization and monitoring in the affected areas in the country. Likewise, the comprehensive response actions have successfully stopped the spread of the virus. After the resurgence of the polio outbreak in September 2019, the country has finally free its shackles from the virus on June 3, 2021. Indeed, this is a testimony that vaccines work and they are safe and effective.
Becoming Polio-free: A Major Win for Public Health
You might be wondering how is this made possible given the current situation. The Department of Health (DOH) has been effective in terms of its delivering its trainings to mobilize the health professionals in infection prevention and control. Moreover, DOH has conducted an enhanced program towards delivering an efficient vaccination rollout. With the personal protective equipment given to the health workers, they were able to vaccinate children in the health centers as well as in their homes. This initiative is greatly lauded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). In fact, the polio-free Philippines status is the very first successful polio immunization program in the world amidst the rise of the COVID-19 transmission.
“This is a major win for public health. Thus, it is an excellent example of what collective efforts can attain even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, the closure of the polio outbreak is a direct result of combined efforts. These include strong political will and government leadership, and the mobilization and engagement of resources and communities. The courage and commitment of the frontliners and the coordinated efforts of the local governments and partner also helped.”Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative to the Philippines
WHO and UNICEF Towards a Polio-free Philippines
A Polio-free Philippines is difficult to attain without the support of a bigger community. Thankfully, WHO and UNICEF has been helping the country towards achieving a polio-free Philippines. Both organizations have greatly helped the country in its comprehensive polio outbreak response.
World Health Organization
First, WHO has helped more on the communication and information dissemination by providing technical and operations support. For instance, they have helped in conducting a nationwide polio surveillance, immunization campaigns, infection prevention, control measures and risk communication. National and international experts have provided a technical support through WHO. As a result, all local and regional immunization implementers have been assisted with utmost consideration.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
On the other hand, UNICEF has ensured that no child will be left behind in the polio immunization drive. They have supported DOH. They supported in terms of engaging the community and mobilizing the society. Furthermore, they helped in developing immunization guidelines, and in delivering and procuring polio vaccines. With their combined efforts, they have increased the DOH and local government units (LGUs)’s capacity to further fight against the polio outbreak.
“The success of the polio immunization in the Philippines is proof that when we come together for children, then great things happen. UNICEF celebrates all the vaccine champions and partners who made this possible. We must keep the momentum and accelerate routine immunization and safeguard essential child health services while rolling out COVID-19 vaccines for priority groups.”Oyunsaikhan Dendevnoro, UNICEF Philippines Representative
Other Polio-Free Philippines Core Partners
In addition, there are other organizations who have supported the polio outbreak response in the Philippines. These are the Vaccine Alliance, Gavi, GPEI – Rotary International, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What is Polio?
The primary impact of a polio virus or poliomyelitis is to cause infection in the nervous system that could result to paralysis. Worse, the polio virus can invade the person’s brain and spinal cord. In fact, there are three types of poliovirus which are the abortive poliomyelitis, nonparalytic poliomyelitis, and the paralytic poliomyelitis.
Among the three types, the most severe is the paralytic poliomyelitis because it can cause a permanent paralysis of the muscles such as the breathing and leg muscles. On the other hand, the abortive type is the mildest form of polio virus.
How does polio virus spread?
The virus is highly contagious in areas where there is poor sanitation. It is because it can spread rapidly through fecal-oral contact. Likewise, the virus can be contracted from poor hand washing or drinking contaminated food and water. Nonetheless, the polio virus can be spread in other forms such as through sneezing and coughing.
If you are wondering whether the polio virus is contagious just as the COVID-19 virus, then the answer is yes. In fact, those people infected with polio can be spread the virus on the onset of the symptoms or immediately after it appeared.
Polio Prevention Initiatives
The good thing about polio is that it can be preventable through a polio vaccine or IPV (inactivated polio vaccine). Every health professional is suggesting a child to be vaccinated four times during their 2nd month, 4th month, between 6th and 18th month, and between his 4th and 6th year.
In the Philippines, the most common vaccine given is the oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV). This type of vaccine is taken through the mouth instead of injecting on the arm with a needle such as the IPV.
Camella Manors: Your Safe and Healthy Home
Now that the polio outbreak is over, it lessens our worry towards paralyzation, especially to our children. If you are a first-time parent, then you need to ensure that your child is vaccinated not only with a polio vaccine, but with other vaccine preventable diseases. In this way, you will let your child experience living a normal life.
In Camella Manors, our resort-themed condo community adds to your quality of life. Experience living in a fresh environment as you enjoy the advantages of getting vaccinated and protected from any communicable and serious diseases.
Let this article encourage and inspire you to get your COVID-19 vaccine today!