By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
“We should do something about it fast.”
Malacañang expressed concern about the re-emergence of polio in the Philippines, 19 years after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the country to be free from the disease.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the statement after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said a three-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur has polio and that the virus was also detected in water sewage samples in Manila and Davao.
In an interview, Nograles said the Palace wanted to reverse the trend of polio in the country because of its effects especially among children.
“Nakakabahala na (It’s alarming that) after 19 years, nagkaroon tayo ng (we have) findings of the presence of polio here. Alam po natin na lubhang nakakahawa po ang polio virus (We know that the virus is very contagious) especially among children,” he said.
“Kailangang bilisan natin yung actions natin to (We need to act fast to) stop this and to reverse it,” he added.
Nograles also said the coverage of the country’s immunization program for the polio virus fell to 68 percent. He, however, assured that the Department of Health (DOH) is doing its best to push it back up.
“Kung ano man ‘yun (Whatever the cause of the decline may be), the Department of Health has its hand full in pushing and promoting again yung immunization against polio and all other sicknesses,” he said.
“Alam naman natin na libre naman yung bakuna na binibigay ng Department of Health (We know that the vaccines from the DOH is free), it’s just a matter of convincing the parents, their families, the children na magpabakuna (to avail of it),” he added.
The former lawmaker then assured that President Duterte will support the DOH’s campaign to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated.
“As far as support from the administration is concerned, whether budgetary or support in terms of media or sa panawagan (announcements) from the President, the President made a declaration before that he is open to, even himself, campaigning to the people na magpabakuna (to have their kids vaccinated), na (and) to avail of the immunization program of the Department of Health,” Nograles said.
“Kung meron man kaming maitutulong sa (If we can be of assistance to the) Secretary of Health, then we’ll be ready to assist him in whatever way,” he added.
Nograles then said the polio outbreak may be one of the topics to be discussed in the next Cabinet meeting which will take place after President Duterte’s official visit to Sochi and Moscow, Russia next month.