MANILA (Mabuhay) – In a bid to stem measles outbreak in various parts of the country, President Benigno Aquino III on Monday led the launch of the Department of Health’s mass immunization campaign.
Assisted by Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Aquino led the ceremonial distribution of oral polio vaccines to two children at the DOH’s compound in Manila.
The measles-rubella oral polio mass vaccination campaign, which will last for a month, aims to cover at least 95 percent of the country and around 11 million to 13 million children at risk of polio and German measles.
In what he calls his shortest speech since becoming a politician, Aquino said he has long been reminding the DOH to prioritize preventive programs, which are cheaper than curative measures.
“Tayo’y nagagalak na talagang tinupad nila itong ating mungkahi na imbis gamutin ang pasyente, baka naman dapat ang tukuyin natin ay huwag magkasakit at hindi maging pasyente,” he said during his brief speech.
(We are happy that they are now implementing our proposal – that instead of curing patients, we should first determine how they won’t get sick in the first place.)
Aquino said the government recognizes that there are really areas where immunization is low.
“Gagawin ng DOH lahat ng makakaya niya pero siyempre kailangan tayong makipagtulungan sa lahat ng local government units,” he said. “At ang pinakaimportante po, ‘yung mga magulang na siyang nag-aaruga at gumagabay sa kanilang mga anak, ang siyang talagang manguna para maniguradong mabakunahan ang lahat ng ating kabataan.”
(The DOH will do everything it can with the help of our local government units. And of course, also important is the participation of the parents who care for and guide their children since they are the ones who will be able to ensure that the children will be vaccinated.)
The DOH said the measles immunization campaign was launched to address the measles outbreak that started during the latter part of 2013. Meanwhile, the oral polio vaccine was included to lessen the risk of the spread of wild polio virus due to importation from polio endemic countries.
The agency called on all children, aged 9 months to 59 months (around five years old) to be vaccinated for measles-rubella. Meanwhile, children from birth to five years will also be given oral polio vaccine.
Parents may bring their children to any health center from September 1 to 30, 2014 for free vaccination.
Health Undersecretary Janette Garin, who gave a short briefing on measles, said it was important for every child in each community to be vaccinated not only for their own safety but also for the safety of other children. (MNS)