By Betheena Kae Unite
Poor surveillance on cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) in the country the past few years was among the three factors that contributed to the re-emergence of polio in the Philippines, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said.
“’Yong AFP surveillance medyo mahina din talaga in the last three or four years. Very few people were reporting. Importante din ‘yon – ‘yon ang third component (The AFP surveillance in the last three or four years was quite poor. Very few people were reporting. That’s also important – that’s the third component),” Domingo said. The first two components are the vaccination coverage, which must be at 95 percent, and the environment sanitation.
“Unfortunately ‘yong AFP surveillance for past few years, konti ang nagre-report. ‘Pag ganun, may possibility na may hindi nade-detect na mga cases (Unfortunately, only a few were reporting AFP surveillance for the past few years. In that case, it’s possible that some case may not be detected),” Domingo added.
He said that the lack of focal persons assigned to do AFP monitoring caused the poor surveillance in the last few years.
“Naging hindi active, naging passive reporting (It became inactive, it became passive reporting),” Domingo stressed.
Underscoring the need to intensify surveillance, the Department of Health (DOH) has ordered a stricter reporting and monitoring of AFP cases nationwide.
“It’s part of the DOH, and it’s the responsibility of hospitals to report them. Kaya lang kailangan siyempre may nakatutok talaga, may nagche-check sa mga hospitals para malaman kung may mga cases ang AFP (There should be focal persons to closely monitor and check with the hospitals if there are cases of AFP),” Domingo said, noting that surveillance is important to stop the transmission of the disease.
“Ngayon, mas tight at mas active ang ating AFP surveillance (At present, our AFP surveillance is tighter and more active), we are getting these cases and hopefully we can detect if there are other cases to confirm if it’s polio or not,” Domingo added.
Data from the DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau showed that 264 AFP cases were reported from January 1 to September 7 – 113 were discarded as non-polio, nine were classified as not AFP, and 142, or more than half, are pending classification.
With the two confirmed polio cases already, Domingo stressed that the Philippines is still polio-free “because we don’t have wild polio virus.” The country was declared polio-free in 2000.