Monday, August 03, 2015

Editorial By Ernesto T. Solidum

“Bakunang Tuloy-tuloy” for Children

The Weekly Kapihan on July 25, 2015 discussed the topic, “Bakunang Tuloy-tuloy, Batang Aklanon”. The venue was at Ninos Function Hall, Ester Subdivision, New Buswang, Kalibo. The guests were: Ms. Bella AR Villaruel, Nurse II PHO, Dr. Conelio V. Canchon, Jr. PHO I; Ms. Grace B. Ureta, Development Officer DOH; and Dr. Rao-by Fernandez, DepEd.

Dr. Cuachon in a power point presentation discussed the mechanics and guidelines of Dept. Memo No. 2015-0146 or Implementation of School-based Immunization. Since 1975 DOH has provided free vaccines for infants. However, its efficacy could decline over time. Hence, the need of booster doses. The targets of immunization drive this year in the province of Aklan are Grade I and Grade VII pupils enrolled in the public schools to be vaccinated against measles, Rubella (MR) and Tetanus-diptheria (Td) vaccines.

Obviously, Aklan has low cases of human papilloma virus (HPV). Hence, Grade IV female students, 9-13 years old are excluded. HPV is causal agent of cervical cancer and 2nd leading cause of mortality after breast cancer. This program is implemented in neighboring province of Iloilo, said Dr. Cuachon.

Ms. Ureta underscored that the program is first piloted among students of selected public secondary schools in 2013 where high risk and vulnerability based on behavior and potential for the outbreak in school and community were observed. Using 3 vaccines (MR, Td and HPV) and immunization coverage of 78.7 per cent in 19 cities and provinces, results of immunization program was highly successful.

The schedule of mass vaccination will cover the whole month of August. It will include all 322 public schools, said Dr. Fernandez. The vaccination program is free and needs a prior written approval by a parent or guardian. In case of zero or 1 dose or vaccination referral or no immunization card presented, the student shall neither be suspended, grounded nor reprimanded added Dr. Fernandez.

There may be adverse effects following immunization such as fainting, and dizziness. Ms. Villaruel enjoins school heads or principals to have vaccination site in less conspicuous areas. It must be timed to fall during recess period or when pupils have taken their snacks.

Last year during the time of Sec. Enrique Ona, the mass vaccination program of DOH-PHO against measles, Rubella, Polio, and Tetanus among children had a maximum target of 95 percent coverage. Cogent reason is removal of pockets or source of infection. Presently, under Secretary Janette Garin, this is circumvented to include only pupils enrolled in public elementary schools to the exclusion of private schools and schools dropouts.

Based on PHO data, there is one measles incidence from January to April 2015 though in July, there were 3 cases. Aklan therefore is classified as less priority area. Whether this is due to this mild El Nino or not, full preventive measures must be initiated by DOH-PHO. Representation must be made with WHO and Unicef for full coverage against preventable diseases affecting children and young adults.

Dr. Cuachon averred that the number one cause of mortality in Aklan is pneumonia. The second is non-communicable diseases (NCD) that include cancer, diabetes and cardio vascular disease. Well, according to National Academy of Science, NCD’s killed 300, 000 Pinoys in 2012 or considered single worse disaster or epidemic. 

The Philippines’ national health concern should also be focused on obese and overweight children. For children 5-10 years old, the prevalence of obesity and overweight was higher at 5.8 per cent in 2013 but went down to 5.0 per cent in 2014. Obese and overweight children are in danger of type 2 diabetes, cardio vascular disease, various forms of cancer and arthritis.

There is greater involvement of line agencies in this year’s campaign namely: DOH, PHO, DepEd, DILG, LGU, PTA and Private Sector/Professional Organizations. There is more reasons to reach maximum target. /MP

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