By Betheena Unite
More than three months after the polio outbreak was declared in the Philippines, four more cases were confirmed by the Department of Health Thursday, bringing the total number of polio cases to 16.
The disease, according to the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM), was found in a two-year-boy and a three-year-old boy in Maguindanao; a two-year-old boy in Sultan Kudarat; and a three-year old boy in Quezon City.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said they manifested with fever, diarrhea, muscle pain, asymmetric ascending paralysis and weakness of extremities.
The confirmed cases came after the health department announced the extension of the synchronized oral polio vaccine in Metro Manila and all regions of Mindanao from January until April 2020.
“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 (Acute Flaccid Paralysis) surveillance indicators, and if every SPKP (Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio) round, all of the target population are reached and vaccinated,” Duque said.
The health secretary urged anew all parents and caregivers of children under five years old to take part in the upcoming SPKP campaign rounds scheduled in their respective areas.
“Have your children, including those with private physicians or pediatricians, vaccinated with oral polio vaccine by health workers and ‘bakunators’. Additional polio doses can provide additional protection to your children. There is no overdose with the oral polio vaccine,” he said.
He said that the agency and local government units aim to accomplish 95 percent coverage in all identified areas for every synchronized oral polio round.
The department also urged all health facilities to strengthen their AFP surveillance. All health facilities must promptly report every case of AFP in any child under 15 years of age and gather sufficient stool specimen samples, the secretary said.
The first confirmed polio case in the Philippines since it was declared polio-free in 2000 was the case of a three-year-old girl in Lanao del Sur. The second case involving a five-year-old boy in Laguna came a day after the first one was discovered.