Unicef sounds alarm on decline of PH’s measles immunization coverage
MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has expressed alarm over the decline of the country’s measles immunization coverage.
In a statement to celebrate World Immunization Week, Unicef said the Philippines’ measles immunization coverage declined “in an alarming rate,” with a record of less than 70 percent, which is far below the required 95 percent.
The coverage was 88 percent in 2013 and 73 percent in 2017, Unicef added.
The UN agency said the decline in the immunization coverage leaves 2.9 million Filipino children vulnerable to diseases such as measles, rubella, and polio.
“Public hesitancy, vaccine stock-outs, the lack of aptly trained health workers and accessibility of hard-to-reach areas put many children susceptible to diseases,” the statement read. “This leads to more outbreaks and put more children at risk of getting sick from life-threatening diseases.”
“Every child has the right to the best possible health care and access to disease protection through timely vaccination. Vaccines are the safest and most effective way of saving lives,” Unicef Representative Julia Rees said.
While Unicef recognizes that Republic Act 10152 or the“Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act” makes immunization free at health centers and government hospitals for children up to five years old, the organization said that it “advocates that the unfinished business of immunization is every child’s right and everyone’s business.”
“Unicef has been relentless in saving children’s lives through immunization against preventable childhood diseases,” the statement read. “The UN Children’s agency has helped the Philippine government eradicate polio and maternal and neonatal tetanus, proving that vaccines work and are safe and effective.” /ee
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