KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/19 January) – Three towns in North Cotabato have been declared “zero open defecation” areas.
Dr. Eva Rabaya, head of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), identified these towns as President Roxas, Antipas and Arakan.
Rabaya said M’lang and Midsayap towns were still trying to reach the same status.
She explained that an area is considered open defecation-free if all households have accessible toileta, and residents opt to use them instead of defecate in open spaces.
She said that since the reemergence of polio in parts of the country in September 2019, the IPHO has intensified its campaign to make every town in North Cotabato open defecation-free.
She said contamination starts when poliovirus in feces enters the body through contact with an infected person’s human wastes.
“Polio is a highly contagious disease caused by poliovirus invading the nervous system. This can be fatal, depending on how strong one’s immune system is. That is why we are intensifying our zero open defecation campaign,” she stressed.
The IPHO will implement from January 20 to February 2 this year another round of massive anti-polio vaccination.
Rabaya said they will visit each house in all villages to convince parents and guardians to allow their children aged zero to 59 months to be given oral polio vaccine.
The campaign aims to eradicate the virus in the years to come.
In North Cotabato, one polio case was confirmed in November 2019. The patient is a child from Barangay Kadingasan, Midsayap.
Seven towns in nearby Maguindanao province recorded one polio case each. These are the towns of Rajah Buayan, Sharif Saydona, Datu Piang, Datu Anggal Midtimbang, Datu Hofer, Datu Odin Sinsuat and Datu Abdullah Sangki. (Malu Cadeliña-Manar/MindaNews)