With the UNICEF warning that at least two million Filipino children below two years old who may miss out on vaccinations this year amidst COVID-19 could be vulnerable to an outbreak of vaccine preventable diseases, Senator Richard J. Gordon stressed the need to boost the country’s capability to develop its own vaccines.
Gordon, in an interview, said vaccine factories should be established in the country, noting that countries like Thailand and Vietnam, which has four, have their own facilities.
“Wala tayong vaccine factories. Dapat may vaccine factory dito, hindi lang para sa COVID kungdi para na din sa iba pang mga sakit na sakop sa EPI ng DOH. Kagaya niyan may dalawang milyong mga bata na most vulnerable sa vaccine preventable diseases ang posibleng naapektuhan dahil sa suspension or disruption sa routine immunization services,” he said.
The senator, who is also chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross, pointed out that disruption in the provision of immunization services increases the number of susceptible individuals in the community, adding that the declining immunization coverage is exposing children to vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and polio.
“This can lead to outbreaks of VPDs as well as VPD-related deaths, and further burden the already exhausted healthcare resources due to the rise in COVID-19 cases,” he said.
The recent measles outbreak in the Philippines in 2019 saw a staggering 130 per cent increase in cases compared to the same period in 2018. Last year, polio re-emerged in the country after 19 years with 17 confirmed cases and health experts fear an increase as the polio outbreak response had to be suspended due to COVID-19.
Gordon further stressed that to ensure a more efficient and effective public health care system, the Philippines should have a Center for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure better response during health crises, such as the COVID pandemic.
“Kung talagang seryoso tayo, dapat meron tayong CDC, hatiin natin ang DOH at ang mga epidemiology, ‘yun ang mga taga-hanap o magre-research tungkol sa mga sakit,” he said. SENATE.GOV.PH