By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – A massive polio vaccination will be conducted in Davao region early next month after water samples from the Davao River tested positive for the poliovirus, Department of Health (DOH)-Davao regional director Annabelle Yumang said on Monday.
In an interview, Yumang said the vaccines from the central office of the DOH are expected to arrive the first week of October and will be administered immediately to the communities.
To prepare for the vaccination program, she said they have already met with the vaccinators, including the local government units through the municipal and district health offices, to brief them on the guidelines.
She said the agency has yet to determine if the scope of the vaccination program will cover the entire region or will be limited to the communities along the Davao River.
“We have conducted meetings with the local government units. We have also met with the district health offices,” she said.
She said no one has been afflicted with polio yet in the region and assured the public that the agency will do all it can to prevent an outbreak.
For the meantime, she said the DOH Davao Center for Health Development (DCHD) conducts regular environmental surveillance as a supplementary activity and the polio surveillance on individuals showing signs of acute flaccid paralysis or muscle weakness on the lower extremities of the bodies which could be a manifestation of the illness.
Yuman urged the people to avoid swimming in the Davao River.
She also asked the public to stop defecating in the rivers and urged local government units “to ensure Zero Open Defecation or the proper use of hygienic toilets and correct disposal of human wastes are observed in their respective communities.”
She said the situation in the region is not yet alarming but emphasized the agency will not wait until someone contracts polio before taking action.
Last week, the agency confirmed that “polio re-emerged in the Philippines 19 years after the country was declared polio-free by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2000.”