“Upon the instructions of Speaker (Alan Peter) Cayetano, we are augmenting the DOH budget for next year by P250 million to enable the agency to effectively fight the polio outbreak,” appropriations committee chair Rep. Isidro Ungab of Davao City said yesterday.
AFP/Jay Directo/File
House gives DOH P250 million vs polio
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - September 26, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives is giving the Department of Health (DOH) additional funds to combat the polio virus, which has resurfaced in the country after 19 years.

“Upon the instructions of Speaker (Alan Peter) Cayetano, we are augmenting the DOH budget for next year by P250 million to enable the agency to effectively fight the polio outbreak,” appropriations committee chair Rep. Isidro Ungab of Davao City said yesterday.

Ungab said the amount would be part of the DOH quick response fund and could be used as well to confront the continuing threat of dengue.

“For instance, they could allocate part of the money for the procurement of vaccines, in addition to whatever funds they have for this purpose,” he said.

Ungab said the DOH augmentation is one of several realignments in the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for next year that a select House committee has agreed on.

No new case reported

While several suspected polio cases are being monitored nationwide, no new confirmed infection has been reported as of yesterday.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said the reported seven Acute Flacid Paralysis (AFP) cases in Zamboanga peninsula were just part of the regular monitoring of the DOH.

“All cases of AFP or kids who have sudden weakness of lower extremities have been observed, tested and checked if it’s polio and we are doing this all over the country. But so far, of all AFP cases, we only had two confirmed cases,” Domingo said in an interview.

“There’s no additional confirmed cases, the only confirmed cases are still from Lanao and Laguna,” he added.

To prevent the spread of polio, the DOH will conduct mass polio vaccination starting in Davao City, Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte.

There is also an ongoing supplemental polio vaccination in Manila, which will be expanded to other areas in the metropolis.

“We only have polio vaccination rate of 50 percent, so we have to continue it in Manila until we reach 100 percent and expand it to other areas in Metro Manila,” Domingo said.

He said there is no problem with the availability of vaccines as the DOH allots P7.5 billion annually for the purchase of medicine to immunize a target number of children.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Red Cross is mobilizing 143 volunteers to help the DOH contain the reemergence of polio.

PRC chair and Sen. Richard Gordon said the volunteers will update the list of all children under five years and get their vaccination status as well as identify barangays with the highest risk based on low vaccination coverage.

Gordon said PRC has embarked on a massive information campaign against polio, reminding mothers to have their children vaccinated for all vaccine-preventable diseases.

The DOH is also looking into the reported death of a child in Metro Manila due to diphtheria.

“We are still verifying and if it’s positive for diphtheria, all those who have close contact will be traced and given antibiotics,” Domingo stressed.

Contrary to reports, Domingo said there has been no significant increase in the prevalence of diphtheria in the country.

“We do get diphtheria cases, about 140 to 150 every year, and so far we have no outbreak or continuous transmission. What is important is we are able to control one case and make sure it does not spread,” he said.

Domingo said the major concern of DOH at the moment is polio and not diphtheria, which can be prevented through vaccination.

Among the symptoms of diphtheria are fever, difficulty in swallowing and breathing.

A child must be completely vaccinated with anti-diphtheria vaccine before reaching four months. – With Mayen Jaymalin, Rainier Allan Ronda

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH POLIO
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