WHO and UNICEF: Polio outbreak in the Philippines finally ended

Manila, Philippines – On behalf of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) declared the Polio epidemic in the Philippines has finally ended.

The WHO country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said on Friday, June 11 that the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) successfully ended the polio epidemic in the Philippines despite of the various challenges that the country are facing including the surge of Corona virus pandemic.

According to the DOH, as of June 3, no cases were reported for over 600 days following the inoculation campaign of Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio (SPKP).

“Today is a very happy occasion. We are formally celebrating the end of the polio outbreak that has affected the Philippines for more than 600 days,” Abeyasinghe said.

Abeyasinghe emphasized the campaign of the DOH with regards to control on the polio outbreak since the three (3) year old girl from Lanao del Sur detected the first case in June 2019 which the department had quickly launched decisive and persistent efforts.

“It was a massive logistical undertaking. And thus began the country’s long and arduous journey to protect every child from the crippling and possibly life threatening disease of polio,” he added.

Some of the country’s response to fight the polio outbreak from 2019 to 2021 are the administration of 30 million jabs of oral polio vaccines.

“This is a major win for public health and is an excellent example of what collective efforts can attain, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure of the polio outbreak is a direct result of strong political will and government leadership, the mobilization and engagement of resources and communities, the courage and commitment of healthcare and front-line workers, and the combined, coordinated efforts of the local governments and partners,” Abeyasinghe said.

“We look forward for these efforts to be sustained for a strong and resilient immunization system, utilizing the investments made for polio outbreak response and COVID-19 vaccination to ensure all children are protected from vaccine preventable diseases as the Philippines moves towards achieving Universal Health Care. We salute all of you who have made this possible during this extremely challenging period by your commitment and dedication to achieve the closure of this outbreak,” he added.

Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, United Nations Children’s Fund Philippine representative said that “the success in fighting the polio outbreak in the Philippines is proof that when we come together for children, great things happen. UNICEF celebrates all the vaccine champions and partners who made this possible. ”

“We must keep the momentum and accelerate routine immunization and safeguard essential child health services while rolling out COVID-19 vaccines for priority groups,” he added.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the inoculation program of the country will minimize the outbreak and bring hope in every children.

“Every unvaccinated child remains at risk of contracting this disease. Hence, we must emphasize the value of getting vaccinated and continually ramp up our vaccination efforts to reach every child and thoroughly minimize the risk of another outbreak,” Usec. Vergeire said.

“We take this way against polio as a drive to improve and strengthen the National Immunization Program through the post outbreak scenarios,” Sec. Duque said.

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