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Bicol is high risk on polio re-emergence due to poor environmental hygiene practices – DOH

A baby (upper photo) takes a dose of Oral Polio Vaccine while photo below shows an infant is given a shot of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV)

LEGAZPI CITY ---The Department of Health in the Bicol Region has warned the Bicolanos of possible polio re-emergence following poor environmental hygiene practices and low immunization coverage, Dr. Monrey Mancilla, DOH Immunization Program chief in Bicol said.

Polio or poliomyelitis is a fatal and disabling disease but a preventable viral infection. Immunization, proper hygiene practices, proper toilet facilities, food sanitation are the best preventive measures against the highly infectious disease, the health official here said.

“Bicol region is high risk on polio re-emergence due to multiple factor such as low immunization coverage and poor environmental practices. That’s why we’re calling on the LGUs, municipal health offices and barangay officials to undertake comprehensive and proactive involvement approach that must be participated in by all private and government agencies,” he said.

Mancilla said that the health department in Bicol is targeting roughly 125,000 children across the region who must undergo massive immunization from age zero to 59 months old or less than five years old.

He, however, clarified that all regions are in high risk of polio re-emergence and all must need to catch up with immunization to control the outbreak.

“We cannot afford to relax although there are no reported polio victims yet in Bicol. I encourage all parents and guardians to have their children undergo immunization to protect them against the diseases,” Mancilla said.

Currently, over 27,000 children have been vaccinated out of its target for the last six months of this year. The third polio cases reported in the country was reported in Maguindanao province.

Polio can spread when there is poor environmental sanitation and hygiene. The health official said that the best preventive measures against the disease is the completion of the three doses of the oral polio vaccine (OP) and the one dose of the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) for infants before turning one-year old.

“We are reminding the public to practice good personal hygiene by washing hands regularly after use of toilets, before preparing foods or eating; to use sanitary toilets, to drink sate water and to cook food thoroughly,” Dr. Ernie V. Vera, DOH Bicol regional director appeal the public.

“We call on all parents especially those with children below five years old who have not received the complete doses required to avail from health centers the oral polio vaccines (OPV) and the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) for this is the only way to stop the spread of this debilitating and fatal disease,” Vera added.

The health department in Bicol called on the local government units in the region to identify areas or households with incomplete or unavailable unsanitary toilet facilities and for passing of local public health policies specifically on the strict implementation of zero open defecation requiring all households in the community to have proper sanitary toilet facilities, thereby reducing oro-fecal transmitted diseases.

Vera also asked all food establishments to adhere food safety guidelines and ensure all food handlers to have sanitary permits issued by their local health departments.

He said that food workers specifically cooks and waiters must observe proper hand hygiene practices at all times.

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