DOH confirms another polio case in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2019   •   599

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said it has recorded another case of polio in the country.

The DOH said the new case is from Mindanao – a nine-year old girl from Basilan who has not received any vaccine for polio.

The department said samples from the girl were sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan. Results of the test came out positive for poliovirus.

The confirmation of the new case brings the total number of confirmed polio cases this year to eight.

Last week, the DOH confirmed three cases of polio in children under five years old from Mindanao.

In September, the department confirmed the re-emergence of the disease in the Philippines 19 years after it was declared polio-free by the World Health Organization.

The DOH said it is currently coordinating with the Ministry of Health of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to maximize the immunization coverage and intensify polio vaccination efforts in Basilan.

Health workers are also set to go house-to-house to ensure that all children under five years of age are vaccinated. Health centers, government hospitals, fixed vaccination posts in barangays malls, terminals, and fast food chains, among others, will also be providing vaccination.

DOH likewise reminded parents and caregivers to participate in the next round vaccination against polio from November 25 to December 7 in the National Capital Region and the whole of Mindanao.

All children under five years of age, regardless of immunization status, will receive a dose of the oral polio vaccine during the campaign.

“I urge all parents and caregivers of children under five years old to take part in the Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio campaign and have their children vaccinated by our health workers,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

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Deployment of Barrio Doctors to Cebu City now voluntary – DOH

Marje Pelayo   •   June 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has changed its decision of mandatory deployment of barrio doctors to Cebu City, the new epicenter of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), following opposition to its planned augmentation of healthcare workers to the city.

On Monday (June 30), the DOH Region 6 in Western Visayas issued an order temporarily suspending the deployment of 40 rural doctors to the virus-stricken city.

 The Regional Office maintained it will not lift the suspension unless concerns and issues raised by the healthcare workers and stakeholders are settled.

The DOH confirmed the action of its Regional Office in Western Visayas thus it decided to commission barrio doctors who will be sent to private hospitals in Cebu City on a voluntary basis after discussions with other DOH Regional Offices and hospital management in Western and Central Visayas. 

“Meron naman tayong ipapadala kaya lang hindi na iyong nailista namin na pangalan. Voluntary na iyong magiging proseso [We will be deploying a team but not those who we previously listed. The process will now be voluntary],” confirmed DOH Undersecretary and Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“So among all of these DTTBs (Doctors to the Barrios) who are willing and amenable to these types of arrangements they are the ones who are going to be deployed to Region 7,” she added.

The DOH clarified that the main tasks of the augmentation force do not include surgery and other critical care functions that are assigned to resident doctors in Cebu.

Hindi sila ilalagay sa mga areas na like operating rooms. Iyong mga may specialization na kailangan [They will not be assigned in areas like operating rooms but only those who have the needed specialization],” Vergeire explained.

“They would be supplemental to the Triage area. Sa mga outpatient units doon sila ilalagay [They will be assigned in the outpatient units],” she added.

Deployment of rural doctors or those under the ‘Doctor of the Barrios’ will be every two weeks.

They will be given two week rest every time they return to their localities to complete the required quarantine period. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Manual disinfection still more effective than UV light devices—DOH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 26, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) cautions the public against using ultraviolet light devices to disinfect against coronavirus.

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Rosario Vergeire said the World Health Organization (WHO) only recommended the use of UV light devices as a disinfectant for healthcare facilities.

Ang mga devices na gumagamit ng ultraviolet ay angkop sa health care settings. Ibig sabihin ay ginagamit lamang po ito sa loob ng mga ospital and clinics (The devices that use ultraviolet light are appropriate for healthcare settings. Meaning it can only be used in hospitals and clinics),” she said.

She added that there are no sufficient research or evidence that prove UV light devices are more efficient in disinfecting surfaces against viruses. The DOH reiterated that manual disinfection is still more effective.

Hindi po ito replacement sa manual na paglilinis at pagpupunas at pagtatanggal ng mga contaminants mula sa mga environmental surfaces, (This is not a replacement for manually cleaning and removing contaminants from environmental surfaces), Vergeire said.

The Health Department also warned that misuse of UV lights might cause skin or eye irritation, and increased risk of cancer. The department also reminded the public to use sufficient amount of alcohol or bleach to disinfect surfaces. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Wearing facemasks, social distancing can help curb COVID-19 spread in PUVs – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday reiterated that wearing facemasks and observing social distancing can help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus disease, especially when riding public utility vehicles.

This was the response of the DOH to the statement of research group IBON Foundation that riding open-air vehicles such as jeepneys would not pose any risk of getting COVID-19.

“The mode of transmission is droplet infection. With our without aircon, basta naka-mask kayo lahat, you are distant to the person next to you at hindi kayo cramped, the possibility of getting infected is very low,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a televised briefing.

The IBON Foundation earlier said that traditional open-air public utility jeepneys are safer for passengers compared with air-conditioned modern jeepneys amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group cited numerous findings of researchers and guidelines from authorities around the world, including:

  • Findings of University of Amsterdam physicists and medical researchers which states that small cough droplets, potentially containing virus particles, can float in the air in a room for many minutes, especially when the room is poorly ventilated;
  • The European Center for Disease Control advise to ensure ventilation in the vehicle/wagon/boat at all times, and avoid recirculating air and encourage the use of windows, skylight panels, and fans to increase replacement with fresh air;
  • Thailand’s transport ministry’s instruction to public transport operators to open windows for good air ventilation
  • China’s advice to public transport groups to have retrofitted window vents to air-conditioned fleets
  • India’s directive enjoining buses to improve ventilation by increasing the frequency of fresh air intake.

IBON Foundation’s executive director Sonny Africa believes these studies will help the cause of jeepney drivers and operators who have been calling for the lifting of ban to operate amid the enforcement of community quarantine.

“Hindi kailanman matatapatan ng mga enclosed modern jeepneys yung sariwang hangin sa modern jeepney. So para dun lamang tingin namin malaking advantange ng mga tradional jeepney sa mga modernized airconditioned jeepney,” he said.

The DOH, however, said there is still a need to reconfigure traditional open-air jeepneys to meet minimum health standards.

“Napakalaki ng risk sa jeepneys dahil ang kanilang sakay ay face to face hindi katulad doon sa bus parang mga upuan na hindi magkakaharap,” Vergeire said.

Old model of public jeepneys are not yet allowed to resume operations under the general community quarantine, based on the guidelines released by the Inter-Agency Task Force.

Modern jeepneys and buses have been allowed to ply the roads again at a limited capacity to accommodate the volume of commuters who have been permitted to return to work amid the crisis.

Malacañang earlier said that the ban on traditional jeepneys may be lifted if the present number of modern jeepneys and buses are insufficient to ferry passengers.

The Department of Transportation also said it is still crafting the guidelines for the resumption of traditional jeepney operations. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

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