WHO says Philippines ''continues to remain polio-free
The World Health Organization (WHO) country representative on Tuesday clarified that Philippines has not lost its polio-free status despite the resurgence of the virus.
"Philippines continues to remain polio-free because what the World Health Organization means when a country is polio-free is that it is free of the wild polio virus," explained Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative in the Philippines.
The last recorded case of wild polio virus in the country was in 1993. The Philippines was declared polio-free in 2000.
The statement came after Department of Health (DOH) declared a polio outbreak after a three year old girl in Lanao del Sur was found positive of the virus last September 19.
The second confirmed case was recorded in September 20 after the virus affected a five-year-old boy in Laguna.
Abeyasinghe said the two victims contracted the vaccine derived polio virus type two and not the wild polio virus - which is only present in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Abeyasinghe also said the low percentage of children getting vaccinated against the virus also contributed to the spread of the virus.
"The three doses of Oral Polio Virus of recommended by DOH (covered only) around 66 percent (of Filipino children). That means that one in three children are not receiving (the recommended doses of immunization vaccine)," he said.
"This situation (contributed to) the rise in the vaccine derived polio virus outbreak," he added.
The WHO's ideal immunization percentage is about 95 percent. It urged everyone to vaccinate children under five years of age to eradicate the risk of contracting the virus. Cristina Eloisa Baclig/DMS