Friday, January 17, 2020

Polio cases hit 16; 1st in Metro Manila reported

Polio has reached Metro Manila, with a three-year-old boy from Quezon City being confirmed to have the  disease and raising the number of cases in the country to 16, the Department of Health (DOH) reported yesterday. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that aside from the boy from Quezon City, two other polio cases from Maguindanao were also recorded. These included two boys aged two and three years old.

Another two-year-old boy from Sultan Kudarat also tested positive for the polio virus.

“They manifested symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, muscle pain, asymmetric ascending paralysis and weakness of extremities,” Duque said. The boy from Barangay Batasan Hills in Quezon City has been confirmed as the first case of polio in Metro Manila since the disease returned to the country last year.

Mayor Joy Belmonte vowed to intensify Quezon City’s campaign against polio after the DOH confirmed that the boy has the disease.

Belmonte directed the city health department to strengthen its surveillance campaign in the area where the patient resides to ensure it would remain an isolated case. “The local government will also extend assistance to address the medical needs of the child,” Belmonte said.

She said the city government would closely coordinate with the DOH to ensure that the disease is eradicated and prevented from spreading.

The city health department will conduct a massive information campaign to encourage residents to practice proper hygiene and handwashing. According to the mayor’s office, the child received five doses of vaccine against polio, including three while he was an infant.

He received two doses during the government’s oral polio vaccine drive last year.

The child supposedly showed symptoms of paralysis last Nov. 30 and then underwent a battery of tests at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. Some of the samples were also sent to Japan for testing.

Test results showed that the child was positive for Type 2 Polio.

Vaccination pushed
To stop the spread of polio in the country, the DOH extended its Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio (SPKP) campaign until February.

“I urge all parents and caregivers of children under five years old to take part in the coming SPKP campaign rounds scheduled in your respective areas. Have your children, including those with private physicians or pediatricians, vaccinated with oral polio vaccine by health workers and bakunators,” Duque said. He said the additional polio doses could provide more protection to children.

The DOH and the local government units (LGUs) are hoping to accomplish 95 percent polio coverage in all identified areas for every SPKP round.

The DOH also intensified the Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance, by requiring all health facilities to report every case of AFP in any child under 15 years old and collect sufficient stool specimen samples. “The outbreak must be put to a halt and we can only do this if all our health facilities are achieving the targets for all AFP surveillance indicators, and if every SPKP round, all of the target population are reached and vaccinated. The DOH, its partners and the LGUs will continue to work hand-in-hand to ensure that no child is left behind in our fight against polio,” Duque said.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported on Wednesday that there were three cases of polio recorded in Sabah, Malaysia in the past two months.  WHO said all cases were found to be genetically link to the nine-year-old girl from Basilan who contracted the disease last year.

The report also showed that 2.9 million doses of monovalent oral polio vaccine (OPV) have been shipped through the UNICEF for the country’s vaccination program.

“The current polio outbreak resulted from persistently low routine immunization coverage and poor sanitation and hygiene,” the report said. The DOH will launch another mass vaccination campaign against polio in Mindanao and Metro Manila until April this year.

Two additional rounds of immunization will be conducted in Metro Manila from Jan. 27 to Feb. 7 and from March 9 to 20. 

Vaccination activities will also be carried out in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga City, Isabela City and Lambayong town in Sultan Kudarat. After this, the DOH will conduct two rounds of immunization in the entire Mindanao from Feb. 17 to March 1 and  from March 23 to April 4. In September last year, the DOH declared the resurgence of polio in the country after 19 years.