PH polio cases reach 7; new patients all Mindanao kids
Three more young children in Mindanao have been afflicted with polio, bringing to seven the number of cases of the debilitating disease in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Wednesday.
In a statement, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III identified the children only as a 2-year-old girl from Maguindanao, a 1-year-old boy from Cotabato City and a 4-year-old girl from Cotabato.
Since a polio outbreak was declared in September, nearly all cases, or six, have been recorded in Mindanao.
According to Duque, the patients from Maguindanao and Cotabato City showed such symptoms as fever and weak legs. The Cotabato toddler was also suffering from cough.
The Cotabato patient had fever and weak right leg, neck and facial muscles.
All three were admitted to Cotabato Regional Medical Center.
Duque said only the child from Cotabato received the oral polio vaccine (OPV) but in “incomplete doses.”
For children to be fully protected from polio, they should receive three OPV doses, given when they reach 6, 10 and 14 weeks old. A shot of the inactivated polio vaccine is given at the same time as the third OPV dose.
“We should not be satisfied with our children receiving only one or two doses of the polio vaccine,” Duque said. “Let us ensure that they receive the complete doses of the vaccine to fully protect them from polio.”
He said it was unacceptable that more children were falling victim to the vaccine-preventable disease.
“We are more determined than ever to make sure that no child shall be missed during the next round of the Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio in Metro Manila and Mindanao,” Duque said.
Of the four polio cases reported earlier, three were from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao: a 3-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur, a 4-year-old girl from Maguindanao, and a 3-year-old girl from Sultan Kudarat.
A 5-year-old boy from Laguna also contracted the disease in September, but Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said he was not considered an active case because he had a weak immune system due to multiple pediatric diseases.
Last month, the DOH mounted a supplemental OPV drive in Metro Manila and four areas in Mindanao.
The country’s dismal immunization coverage rate, poor environmental sanitation and personal hygiene, and suboptimal surveillance of acute flaccid paralysis cases proved to be key drivers for the emergence of cases of the vaccine-derived poliovirus.
In the supplemental OPV drive, Metro Manila reported an average of 96 percent coverage among children aged not over 59 months. Davao del Sur recorded a 92-percent coverage and Lanao del Sur, 85 percent.
A community must have a 95-percent coverage rate to achieve herd immunity.
The DOH is set to roll out a second OPV drive from Nov. 25 to Dec. 7 to cover the entire Mindanao, and a third and final round for those still not covered in Metro Manila.
Duque appealed to parents and caregivers to have children immunized since this was the only way to prevent polio, an incurable disease.
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