IN THE KNOW: Polio in the Philippines
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has been declared polio-free since October 2000. It is, however, currently at high risk for poliovirus transmission, the Department of Health (DOH) has said.
Polio is a fatal and disabling disease caused by poliovirus, which is transmitted when there is poor environmental sanitation and hygiene.
The disease can result in irreversible paralysis affecting most commonly the leg muscles, but for 5 to 10 percent of acute flaccid paralysis cases, the breathing muscles are also affected which can cause death.
For the past years, vaccination coverage for the third dose of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) has fallen below 95 percent, the target required to ensure population protection against polio.
Surveillance on acute flaccid paralysis has also been consistently poor and the practice of open defecation and poor sanitation persists in communities.
The Philippines is also at risk of infection with poliovirus from neighboring countries where it was recently found to have recirculated.
According to the DOH, complete vaccination is the best preventive measure against polio. All children under 1 year old should complete their three doses of OPV and one dose of inactivated polio vaccine.
The DOH planned measures to enhance polio prevention in Metro Manila, including intensified surveillance of children below 5 years old who developed sudden onset of muscle weakness or paralysis of the upper and lower limbs, and a polio immunization campaign for all children under 5 years old.
The health department also called for all local governments to intensify the implementation of the zero open-defecation program and to strengthen the call for environmental sanitation and personal hygiene, such as frequent handwashing. —Inquirer Research
SOURCE: INQUIRER ARCHIVES, DOH
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