Philippines resumes mass polio immunisation campaign amid coronavirus pandemic

There is no cure for polio. However, it can be prevented with multiple doses of polio vaccines. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (XINHUA) - The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) on Monday (July 20) resumed its mass polio immunisation campaign across the country to stem the spread of the infectious disease.

The DOH said the mass polio immunisation rounds for children under five years old in the Mindanao region in the southern Philippines and several regions in the main island of Luzon will start on July 20 and run until Aug 2.

The Philippines launched a comprehensive polio outbreak response, including mass polio immunisation rounds, after the disease re-emerged in the country in September last year after nearly two decades.

The DOH said its health workers are ready to go around the communities to administer the polio vaccination.

It added that the teams have been given "online orientations and planning" to enlighten them on the challenges posed by the coronavirus.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque stressed the need to continue the campaign to eradicate polio amid the Covid-19 epidemic.

"Continuous implementation of polio response amid the present health crisis we are facing is important as this will prevent not only the debilitating effects of the disease, but also interrupt the transmission during a pandemic," Mr Duque said.

Mr Duque said that "a whole-of-government and whole-of-nation approach" is critical in preventing the polio outbreak, adding that polio is a vaccine-preventable disease.

"It is imperative for parents and caregivers to have their children vaccinated, while strictly adhering to infection prevention and control protocols, as we cannot afford to overwhelm our health system with another outbreak," he added.

The World Health Organization and the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF) are proving technical support for the campaign, the DOH added.

Polio is an infectious disease that spreads rapidly. It can cause paralysis and, on rare occasions, can be fatal.

Polio is spread when the stool of an infected person is introduced into the mouth of another person through contaminated water or food.

There is no cure for polio. However, it can be prevented with multiple doses of polio vaccines that have long been proven safe and effective.

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