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Ramp up immunization programs, LGUs urged

September 19, 2022 Camille P. Balagtas 275 views

To prevent disease outbreaks

SENATOR Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian, alarmed by Department of Health (DOH) warnings of the impending measles outbreaks, is urging local government units (LGUs) to ramp up their programs to increase immunization coverage and prevent the outbreak of “vaccine-preventable” diseases.

Gatchalian made this call as the DOH reported that 1 million children in the Philippines under the age of one remain unvaccinated. The DOH added that the Philippines is one of the ten countries with the lowest immunization rate for children in the world. The agency further warned of an impending measles outbreak if immunization rates remain low.

The lawmaker also noted that the government should be aggressive in expanding vaccination coverage considering the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption of immunization programs.

“Maraming beses nang napatunayan ng agham na ligtas at mabisa ang mga bakuna laban sa pagkakasakit. Kaya naman sa tulong ng ating mga lokal na pamahalaan, dapat nating tiyakin na ang ating mga programa para sa pagbabakuna ay maabot lahat ng mga sanggol,” said Gatchalian.

While the DOH said that it is working with medical societies and pediatric doctors’ groups, Gatchalian cited the role of local governments in helping ensure an efficient rollout of the vaccination programs. The government’s Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) employs the “Reaching Every Barangay Strategy” (REB) to improve access to routine immunization.

The EPI also seeks to ensure that all health facilities, including health centers and barangay health stations, have at least one staff trained on the REB.

Gatchalian also cited the role of LGUs under the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act of 2011 (Republic Act No. 10152), which provides for free and mandatory basic immunization for infants and children up to age five. LGUs, for instance, together with the DOH, other government agencies, non-government organizations, and professional academic societies, are mandated to ensure that appropriate information materials are available for distribution to the public.

LGUs, together with the academe, professional societies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), shall also assist the DOH in undertaking continuing information, education, and training programs for all health personnel on the benefits of immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases.