MANILA, Philippines – House Deputy Majority Leader Bernadette Herrera-Dy confirmed that the House of Representatives is setting aside Php250 million to aid the anti-polio drive of the Department of Health (DOH).
“I’m happy na magkakaroon ng additional Php250 million na augmentation na ni-release kanina ni Appropriations Chair Rep. Ungab. Mahalaga ‘yun para sa atin,” Herrera-Dy said in a press conference.
On September 19, polio reemerged in the Philippines after almost 20 years since it was eradicated in 2000. Globally, polio remains endemic in three countries—Pakistan, Nigeria, and Afghanistan.
“The WHO is gravely concerned about the situation in the Philippines,” World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe told reporters.
Currently, only 66 percent of Filipinos are orally vaccinated against polio. Abeyasinghe said it should be at least 95 percent. He added that the Philippines could be “seeing another outbreak in another couple of years” if 30 percent of the population remains unvaccinated.
The DOH initially asked for Php800 million augmentation. Herrera-Dy said that the House will initially give Php250 million to gauge why the huge amount is needed “considering it’s supposed to be part of the below five years old standard immunization for all children.”
Despite the outbreak, WHO retains the Philippines in the list of polio-free countries. The DOH confirmed two polio cases this year—a 3-year-old girl (Lanao Del Sur) and a 5-year-old boy (Laguna). (HGBH/LMO)
Photo from the Department of Health Facebook page