Aquino neglected vaccine schemes | Daily Tribune – Without Fear or Favor

Mallari, M. (2019, February 14). Aquino neglected vaccine schemes. Daily Tribune – Without Fear or Favor. Retrieved February 14, 2019 from

Aquino neglected vaccine schemes
By Mario J. Mallari – February 14, 2019 12:22 AM

A downtrend in the government vaccination program started during the final three years of former President Benigno Aquino’s administration when health programs were neglected.

Obviously, it was not prioritized. They neglected it

Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), said the government’s vaccination program on measles was obviously not prioritized, thus the current outbreak of highly-contagious diseases in various regions.

According to Gordon, from as high as 91 percent coverage of the government immunization program, it went down to 75 percent in 2014, then 69 percent for 2015 and as low as 39 percent in 2018.

“Obviously, it was not prioritized. They neglected it,” Gordon said.

The hysteria from the reported deaths of children vaccinated with Dengvaxia vaccine was also blamed for the downtrend in the government’s expanded program of immunization (EPI).

Aquino and several of his Cabinet officials, led by former Department of Health (DoH) Secretary Janette Garin, were tagged in the multibillion-peso Dengvaxia mess.

Huge inoculation gap
“But there is no use for fixing blame now. We really need to catch up in the immunization program, there is a huge gap in the inoculation,” Gordon said, citing the measles outbreak declared by the DOH last week.

The department announced an outbreak in Metro Manila and subsequently declared a “red alert” outbreak in the regions of Luzon and parts of the Visayas.

Data from the DoH-Epidemiology Bureau of DoH revealed that from 1 January to 9 February this year, a total of 4,302 measles cases have been reported with 70 deaths.

Other regions with high reported cases are the NCR (National Capital Region with 1,296 cases and 18 deaths) CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon with 1,086 cases and 25 deaths), Central Luzon (481 cases with three deaths), Western Visayas (212 cases and four deaths) and Northern Mindanao (189 cases and five deaths). Eastern Visayas, MIMAROPA, CALABARZON, Central Visayas and Bicol are regions that have shown increasing trend as to reported cases.

Gordon said he will meet today with barangay officials in Manila where there is high rate of measles patients mostly children, to determine what the PRC can do to assist.

He noted the government has allotted P7 billion for DoH’s EPI.

Calamity state not needed
Gordon also thumbed down a proposal to declare a state of calamity in the regions hit by the measles outbreak which has already caused at least 70 deaths, with majority of the fatalities coming from CALABARZON.

During the NDRRMC Response Cluster Meeting held last Monday, Gordon warned against declaring a state of calamity at present since the number of measles cases is still manageable and does not yet justify such declaration.

“There’s no need to create a national emergency here. We’re not in danger of a pandemic or an epidemic right now. It’s manageable, therefore what you need right now is a call to arms to make sure that everybody is conscious of the need to immunize and that kids must be immunized,” Gordon said.

“We don’t have the numbers to justify that (declaration of a state of calamity). So let’s not go slip-shod into something that we are not ready for, that doesn’t call for it,” he added.

Published in Headlines | Daily Tribune – Without Fear or Favor

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