Child Health Day: Polio status in the Philippines


On October 21, 1948, then-President Elpidio Quirino signed Proclamation No. 100 which set November 19 as the National Child Health Day. In light of this, let us emphasize the plight of our medical professionals against Polio in the Philippines.

Polio Update in the Philippines

On a joint news release last July 20, 2020, the Department of Health (DOH) announces the resumption of the “Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio” in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The polio outbreak, announced last September 19, 2019, started with a three-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur in Mindanao. Since then, 15 more cases followed with ages ranging from below one-year-old to nine years old.

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These were identified in Region 3, Region 4A, Region 12 (Soccsksargen), and in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The country is affected by the cVDPV1 and cVDPV2, with the latter considered as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

Polio is a highly contagious disease transmitted through the faecal-to-oral route caused by poor sanitation and hygiene practices, or through ingestion of contaminated food or water. It mainly affects young children who have not finished their vaccination schedules. Once in the intestine, the poliovirus multiplies and invades the nervous system, which may lead to paralysis and even death.

In preparation for the campaign, the government, with the help of the UNICEF, have procured supplies including vaccines, ice packs, freezers, and vaccine carriers. They also disseminated communication materials and enjoined local leaders and influencers to spread messages about the campaign. The WHO also deployed national and international polio experts to provide technical support to the regions.

Protecting Children from Polio

The best way to protect children from getting the disease is through vaccination. We must ensure that all children under the age of 5 receive the vaccine during each vaccination round, even if they have already received it before. These routine childhood immunizations include three doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) and one dose of the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).

As a way to limit the spread of polio in the Philippines, residents of an area should also maintain proper water, sanitation and hygiene. They should also maintain regular washing of hands, using the toilet, cooking food thoroughly, and drinking safe water.