MANILA — The Department of Health (DoH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) will conduct a mass vaccination of children below five years old in areas hit by super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).
Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona said some one million children in evacuation centers in Tacloban City and Cebu City are up for vaccination against polio and measles. The children will also be given Vitamin A drops to boost their immune systems.
Ona said the deployment of teams of volunteer nurses to Tacloban for this activity will begin soon even as WHO and DoH are still working on the preparations and the procurement of vaccines and related supplies for the program.
The health chief reported that the typhoon destroyed 81 public hospitals and 833 barangay health stations. The damaged was placed at roughly P4 billion.
Ona said the Philippine health system is strong and ready to serve areas affected by typhoon Yolanda.
“Our system is shaken but not broken,” Ona said during a conference at DoH.
Ona considers the mass immunization and Vitamin A supplementation as top health priorities to avoid the spread of diseases especially among people in temporary shelters that are crowded.
“Large numbers of non- or under-vaccinated children are at risk of contracting and spreading infectious diseases likemeasles particularly in congested areas where the homeless are now living,” said Dr. Julie Hall, WHO country representative.
WHO is currently working with partners for the delivery of the vaccines that will be placed in gas-powered and generator-powered fridges, vaccine cases, cold boxes and ice packs for areas that do not have electric power. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has sent six solar-driven refrigerators to Tacloban for this mass immunization program. (Jenny Manongdo, Manila Bulletin)