FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

WHO launches polio and measles vaccine campaign in Philippines

The Philippine Department of Health and the World Health Organization announced on Friday the launch of a joint campaign to vaccinate children against measles and polio in response to the displacement caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

"Large numbers of non- or under-vaccinated children are at risk of contracting and spreading infectious diseases such as measles - particularly in congested areas where the homeless are now living," WHO Representative in the Philippines Dr. Julie Hall said. "Measles can be deadly, especially in young children."

The campaign specifically targets the children most heavily affected by the typhoon. The evacuation centers in Tacloban and the receiving centers of Cebu are the first to be included in the immunization campaign, since this is where displaced families are in temporary housing.

With the help of the WHO, the Philippine Department of Health will vaccinate children under five years of age against polio and measles; they will also receive Vitamin A drops to help boost their immune systems.

"Our system is shaken but not broken," Philippine Secretary of Health Enrique Ona said. "With the support of partners, vaccinations have been re-launched at a vital time."

The WHO is working with its partners to obtain gas and generator-powered cold boxes, refrigerators, vaccine-cases, freezers and ice packs to keep the vaccines from spoiling in areas that have lost power. The U.S. Agency for International Development has already contributed by sending The Philippines six solar-powered refrigerators.

The first phase of the immunization campaign targets children six months to five years of age who were most heavily affected by the typhoon. If resources allow, the WHO plans to extend its campaign to include children up to 15 years old.

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