On Thursday, the Department of Health (DOH) has announced the re-arrival of polio in the Philippines. The illness has emerged in the country nineteen years after the WHO had declared the Philippines a polio-free nation. Francisco Duque III, Philippines’ Health Secretary, said officials had confirmed a single minimal case of polio in a girl,3, in the southern Lanao del Sur region. Even more, they have found the deadly poliovirus in Manila’s sewage and waterways of south Davao area. Mr. Francisco said those facts are sufficient to announce an epidemic of the paralyzing disease in a formerly polio-free nation.
The WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund have expressed greater concerns citing the re-arrival of polio in the Philippines. Even more, they have assured to back the government in vaccinating children and empowering scrutiny. Oyun Dendevnorov, the spokesperson of UNICEF Philippines, has expressed concerns citing reemergence of polio. He says even if a single child remains infected, children nationwide and even beyond borders, remain under risk of contracting polio. As per WHO and UNICEF, the polio epidemic in the Philippines is disturbing because it is due to vaccine-derived type-2 poliovirus. The vaccines have a deficient virus which is present for a short time in children’s guts and is passed out with feces. In very few cases, the impaired virus can empower in regions with a lack of hygiene and sanitation.
Thus unimmunized children are at risk of having the deadly, paralyzing illness. Besides, polio is a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease. It can spread from unhygienic and contaminated water or food. Polio may even pass from an infected person to a healthy one. Many times, the illness does not reveal any symptoms, and people do not become sick. But in some cases, the disease develops into paralysis, which might lead to dangerous health conditions, including death. As of today, there is no treatment for polio, but it is a vaccine-avoidable disease. Thus the Philippines health secretary has announced a mass vaccination camp in the upcoming month, for children under 5, to combat the disease.