Davao City health office nears 100% coverage in anti-polio vaccine drive

DAVAO CITY—The City Health Office (CHO) disclosed over the weekend it was nearing 100 percent coverage of the anti-polio vaccination, and health personnel are making a final sweep of areas with low vaccination coverage with two more days to the homestretch of the first phase of the vaccination drive.

Although the city was confident it could attain the target of full coverage, it expressed dismay with some parents who it said continued to resist having their children immunized of the poliomyelitis, which emerged this year as an epidemic, following the detection of at least two cases in Lanao del Sur and Bulacan. Water samples taken from Manila and Davao sewerage waters showed the presence of the virus.

As of October 23, the CHO said its anti-polio immunization already hit 95 percent of its target since it started on October 14. The immunization drive will continue until today, Sunday.

CHO teams have completed administering the oral polio vaccine, or OPV, in most rural and far-flung areas, said technical division chief, Dr. Julinda Acosta.

Paquibato District, for instance, has already surpassed the 100-percent immunization rate for all children five years and below.

Acosta said the CHO would focus on the districts that have a low rate of coverage such as Buhangin, part of the expanded business district, which registered only 79.5 percent of immunized kids.

“We still have a few days… so our staff are currently doing sweeping right now to ensure that all children will be covered and also to convince parents, and to check on the situation of those children who were immunized,” she said.

She also bared of some parents who are still refusing to have their children immunized, brought about by the deaths caused in administering of the anti-dengue vaccination.

“They have misunderstood the essence of the immunization. This is not only for the less fortunate. They need to participate because there is a poliovirus found at the Davao River,” she said.

Acosta said the CHO would continue to educate parents and convince them that the OPV is safe and necessary.

Meanwhile, the city government opened its sixth Botika ng Bayan in the city’s northern Paquibato District, where many tribal communities reside. It was opened recently in Barangay Paquibato Proper.

The village drugstore outlets was being established with partnership with the Department of Health.

The city government said government-run Botika ng Bayan “provides residents an accessible outlet for needed medicines especially those living in remote villages of Paquibato District, which comprises 13 barangays and home to most Ata tribes.”

“This [Botika ng Bayan] is just a first step. The next step will be establishing functional health centers here in Paquibato,” said Vice Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, who, the city information office said, led Wednesday’s launching of the center.

The younger Duterte has urged residents to make use of the pharmacy and also committed support to the needs of the barangay.

He said the city government is eyeing to build more health centers in the district to complement the Botika ng Bayan.

The establishment of Botika ng Bayan was part of the city government’s commitment to providing accessible health facilities in underserved areas. It also ensures free access to safe and effective medicines for all.

The five Botika ng Bayan already operating are located at the Lingap Center-Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), the City Health Office, and the city health centers in Calinan, Toril, and Bunawan District.

Dr. Josephine Villafuerte, the chief of the CHO, said the residents would no longer travel far to buy medicine every time a common illness catches them.

“The Botika ng Barangay program aims to provide free medicines for common diseases to the residents,” she said.

To avail of free medicines, Villafuerte said patients only need to bring a valid doctor’s prescription.

“Whether or not the prescription came from us [CHO] or a private health center, they can present their prescription to the Botika ng Bayan,” she added.

The essential medicines available include antibiotics, vitamins for children, drugs for cough and fever, and maintenance drugs for hypertension and diabetes.

Barangay Captain Mel Joseph P. Escobidal said patients previously have to go to Panabo City in Davao del  Norte just to get medicines.

Escobidal said the BNB’s opening makes life in Paquibato better with health services and medicines made accessible for the marginalized, underserved and vulnerable population.

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