DOH-12 deploys more workers for immunization drive

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/04 October) — The Department of Health (DOH) in Region 12 has mobilized additional health workers to augment the extended supplemental immunization activities for measles, rubella and polio in the region.

Dr. Fatima Emban, DOH-12’s family health cluster chief, said Friday they have stepped up the immunization activities in the region in a bid to cover more eligible infants and children in the area.

She said all rural health units and stations in the area will continue to conduct measles and rubella vaccinations as well as provide oral polio vaccines to children aged nine months to four years and 11 months-old until October 10 as ordered by the DOH central office.

Also known as Soccsksargen, the region covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of Koronadal, Tacurong Kidapawan and Cotabato.

She said they are targeting to immunize all remaining eligible children during the 10-day extension period.

“We’re calling on parents of children who have not received the vaccines during the campaign to immediately visit our vaccination posts, rural health centers and stations,” she said.

DOH scheduled the supplemental mass immunization program, which is supported by the World Health Organization, for the entire month of September.

As of October 1, the DOH-12 reported that health workers in the region’s four provinces and five cities only covered a total of 474,528 children or 91 percent of their 522,602 target for the measles-rubella vaccination during the month-long supplemental mass immunization campaign.

Sarangani Province and Cotabato City posted 100 percent immunization rates followed by South Cotabato with 91 percent, this city with 90 percent, North Cotabato with 89 percent and Sultan Kudarat with 84 percent.

For the oral polio vaccination, the agency said the region posted an average immunization rate of 87 percent during the period.

Such rate was equivalent to a total of 535,613 children of their targeted 613,489 in the entire region.

Citing results of their monitoring and rapid coverage assessment, Emban said the immunization activities in some parts of the region were affected by the onset of rains spawned by the weather systems that hit the country.

Despite failing to reach their targets for the month-log campaign, she said they were still positive with the results as it reflected the actual coverage of the activity in the region.

“We don’t want to just make up some data to show that we accomplished something and in the end risk possible disease outbreaks,” she said.

The DOH Region 12′s regional epidemiology and surveillance unit reported that a total of 121 suspected measles cases were recorded in the entire region last year.

In the first six months of the year, DOH-12 already recorded a total of 1,575 measles cases and nine deaths in the entire region. (MindaNews)