By Ben Rosario
Citing a special report from the Commission on Audit, party-list group Anakalusugan on Thursday called on the Department of Health (DOH) to intensify its efforts to promote the vaccination of children.
The party-list organization that nominated former Quezon City Rep. Michael Defensor said that in a Performance Audit report released by COA in 2017, the percentage of schoolchildren given government-funded vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria, and measles was low.
Defensor said COA conducted performance audit on the School-based Immunization Program of the DOH that received P330 million and P282 million funding in 2015 and 2016.
With 55 deaths – all children between 3 months and 4 years old – recorded in the National Capital Region last month, Anakalusugan said the DOH should respond quickly and efficiently to address the outbreak.
The group threw its support behind the decision of President Duterte to order a vigorous campaign to promote the complete immunization for children who are most vulnerable to diseases such as measles.
“DOH data show there are at least 2.4 million children who have not received measles vaccination. This is simply unacceptable. We have to address people’s fear of vaccination as this could result in the outbreak of other diseases,” Defensor said.
“While it is the primary duty of parents to protect their children’s health, the government, through the Department of Health, should not be complacent in promoting complete immunization. They should have already seen the trend last year when measles cases increased by more than 1,000 percent,” he added.
In 2018, at least 3,646 measles cases were recorded in NCR compared to only 351 in 2017.
From January 1 to 19 this year, the number of measles in Metro Manila reached 196, higher by 550 percent than the 20 cases recorded for the same period last year.