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Davao City, Philippines

Davao City intensifies drive against polio

September 20, 2019 - Friday 5:09 PM by Funny Pearl A. Gajunera

Article Banner Image ANTI-POLIO DRIVE. Health Secretary Francisco Duque administers a polio vaccine during an anti-polio campaign in Manila on Friday September 20, 2019. TED ALJIBE / AFP

A mother watches as a health worker administers a polio vaccine during an anti-polio campaign in Manila on September 20, 2019. TED ALJIBE / AFP


DAVAO CITY -- The City Health Office (CHO) is now intensifying its campaign against polio after the Department of Health (DOH) declared an outbreak of the disease and pinpointed Davao as one of the areas in which the virus has been detected.

CHO head Dr. Josephine Villafuerte confirmed that Davao River tested positive of the polio virus based on the August 22 sample gathered by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

Villafuerte said the moment her office found out about the confirmed samples, she immediately called a meeting to map out measures that need to be undertaken to prevent the spread of the virus

“We’ve been checking the entire community if there are confirmed cases of polio virus. So far there is none,” she said.

Villafuerte said only the polio vaccine can prevent the disease.

Villafuerte said the virus is contagious and can be acquired through infected water like the Davao River and even public swimming pools.

“We gathered all the resort owners, barangay captains of coastal barangays and those near the river banks to inform them on how they can help in the prevention of the spreading of the virus,” she said.

Though there are no reported polio case in the city, Villafuerte said that the public should remain vigilant and follow the preventive measures since anyone can be infected of the virus.

“People should avoid swimming in the river banks and public swimming pools, should always wash their hands, ensure that they have their own bathrooms, take the vaccine, and maintain proper hygiene,” Villafuerte said.

“There is no age limit when it comes to polio virus. One should really have a vaccine for him to be safe against the disease,” she said.

First polio case since 2001
On Thursday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said a three-year-old girl in Lanao del Sur had contracted polio, while the virus was also detected in Manila's sewage and in waterways of Davao City.

"This is our first polio case of any kind since 2001," Health Secretary Francisco Duque told AFP.

The Department of Health (DOH) said it was also investigating one other suspected case, but gave no details.

"We are concerned there are maybe other people who have been exposed to this virus and there could potentially be other cases," WHO country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe told reporters.

Over the past three decades the world has made great strides in the battle against polio, a highly infectious disease which can lead to paralysis or even death and has no cure.

The World Health Organization said only 33 cases were reported worldwide last year.

The news comes after the Philippines was hit by measles and dengue outbreaks earlier this year, killing more than a thousand people, as many parents did not get their children vaccinated.

"When your (immunization) coverage is very low, you can have the vaccine-derived virus being transmitted from person to person," Abeyasinghe said, referring to polio.
Duque called on parents, health workers and local governments to help government doctors boost the vaccination effort.

"It is the only way to stop the polio outbreak and to protect your child against this paralysing disease," Duque added. With a report from Agence France-Presse