World Vision joins Philippine health department’s fight against polio

The Department of Health declares polio outbreak in the Philippines after confirming a case of a 3-year-old child in Lanao del Sur. This is the first confirmed case of polio in the country after being polio-free since 2000. Manila’s sewage has also been found to be positive of polio virus.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Polio (poliomyelitis) is an infectious viral disease affecting the nervous system. It can spread through person-to-person contact, especially in areas with poor sanitation. Common symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs.

There is no known cure for polio yet but immunization can help prevent it. It is crucial to give oral polio vaccine (OPV) given as drops into the mouth or the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) given by injection in the early stage of a child’s life. OPV and IPV provide protection for children against polio for life if given multiple times. The health department also encouraged the public to help stop the spread of the virus by washing their hands regularly, drinking safe water, consuming foods that are thoroughly cooked, and covering their mouth when in crowded places.

“This outbreak is alarming and requires action from everyone. Children are especially vulnerable to this, hence the urgent need to prevent the virus from spreading,” shares World Vision’s Executive Director Rommel Fuerte. World Vision is present in 27 provinces and 19 cities across the Philippines, impacting an estimated population of 7 million Filipinos, including 2.9 million children. Recognizing health as a top priority, the organization has existing programs on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) both in rural and urban communities. Staff on the ground have also been alerted of the outbreak and will start massive information dissemination in World Vision-assisted areas, in partnership with the local health units.

“We will leverage on these existing initiatives to help stop the spread of the virus. No person, especially a child, should have to be robbed of his future because of this contagious disease. We also echo the call of the department of health for the public to work together, as we have done before, to be a polio-free country again,” said Fuerte.