Makati vaccination drive impresses British envoy

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BRITISH Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Anwar Ahmad was impressed by the direct involvement of barangay (villages) in ongoing mass immunization efforts of the Makati Health Department (MHD) against measles, rubella and polio when he personally saw the door-to-door vaccination drive in the city.

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“I am impressed with the way barangay captains themselves have been involved in doing house-to-house work to optimize the coverage” of the vaccination drive,” Ahmad said over the weekend.

The British envoy, together with representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Health (DOH), witnessed the participation of the barangay chiefs and health workers of La Paz in District I and West Rembo in District II in the door-to-door inoculation drive. At the health centers in these villages, he personally administered vaccine shots on some children.

The free vaccines were donated to the Philippines by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the Serum Institute.

“We want to do what we have achieved for polio globally and in the Philippines to make it as we are now, polio-free. Hopefully, we’ll get to that situation where measles is just a thing of the past in the Philippines,” Ahmad said.

Prior to the actual monitoring, Dr. Diane Jocelyn Vaño, MHD chief, met with the delegation led by the ambassador at City Hall where she presented up-to-date reports on the status of measles, rubella and polio cases in the city, as well as the best practices the city health department has been implementing to keep the cases at low levels.

Vaño said the MHD vaccination team is aiming to reach 95 percent coverage or more for every barangay. She added that the door-to-door mass immunization campaign complements the existing Expanded Immunization Program of Makati, which covers immunizable childhood diseases, namely, measles, polio, diptheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and tuberculosis.

In 2007, Makati enjoyed a measles-free status while in 2012, there was only one reported case. Nevertheless, the MHD chief noted that 10 measles cases in 2013 were a huge improvement from the 109 cases recorded in 2003.

The month-long mass immunization campaign spearheaded by the DOH with the slogan, “Ligtas sa Tigdas: Magkaisa, Magpabakuna,” seeks to immunize 11 million children with measles-rubella (MR) vaccine and more than 13 million with oral polio vaccine (OPV) throughout the country.

Under the program, all children ages nine to 59 months are each given one dose of MR vaccine while one dose of OPV is given to children from zero to 59 months old.

The preventive health care program of Makati is anchored on immunization and control of various diseases, environmental sanitation, reproductive health care and family planning seminars, nutrition programs for school and pre-school children, dental and laboratory services and care for the elderly.

Also, based on the latest report of the Nutrition Office under MHD, malnutrition rate in Makati this year dipped further, from 0.73 percent in 2013, to 0.64 percent.

On August 11, the city opened its first 24/7 primary health care facility at Palanan Health Center seeking to deliver basic services to its residents round the clock, seven days a week. The initiative, probably the first of its kind in the country, was conceptualized to respond to the needs of daytime workers and their families who often have to go to Ospital ng Makati for primary health care services. This move also seeks to decongest the city-owned tertiary hospital.

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