THE Philippines, a Southeast Asian nation where many people still die without seeing a health professional because of extreme poverty, runs the risk of losing its “polio-free status.”
Coming from no less than Secretary Francisco T. Duque III of the Department of Health (DoH) himself, the report is certainly alarming, according to worried parents and guardians.
Of course, this is understandable because polio is a fatal and disabling disease caused by poliovirus, which is transmitted when there is poor environmental sanitation and hygiene.
A medical doctor, Duque said that the Philippines is at risk for importation of poliovirus from neighboring countries where the virus has been found to have re-circulated.
The DoH secretary warned that “unless we act quickly in putting our surveillance on alert to detect signs of poliovirus transmission…we risk our losing our polio-free status.”
Most importantly, he said, Filipinos risk the health and future of our children due to a disease which is preventable. Complete vaccination is the best preventive measure against polio.
It is heartening to note, however, that the DoH has planned measures aimed at enhancing polio prevention in the country, notably heavily-populated Metropolitan Manila.
It has also called on local governments to intensify the implementation of the “Zero Open Defecation” program to strengthen environmental sanitation and personal hygiene.
It is public knowledge that open defecation and poor sanitation persist in many communities across the country, worrying and saddening health and village authorities.
Doubtless, the DoH is doing a great job in strengthening preventive measures against polio and other dreaded diseases that continue to claim the lives of many Filipinos.