Philippines: Red Cross triples polio vaccination target

Manila / Kuala Lumpur, 25 October 2019 – The Philippine Red Cross is more than tripling the number of children it aims to vaccinate in a door-to-door polio vaccination campaign, the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said today.

On 1 October 2019, the Red Cross announced support for a Department of Health campaign by activating volunteers in parts of Mindanao and Metro Manila to vaccinate 30,000 children in the hardest-to-reach communities. In fact, the Philippine Red Cross has reached nearly 60,000 children. Today, the target was increased to 100,000.

Announcing the increase, Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said:

“We’re particularly worried about children under five in urban slums, rural areas, migrant families and indigenous communities who have missed out on life-saving vaccinations. It’s simply not right that these children are at risk of death or lifelong disability in the 21st century. The tripling of our target reflects the commitment of Red Cross volunteers and staff, who are literally climbing mountains and crossing rivers to ensure no child is left behind. What’s more, they will do this again in a month when children need a booster, and a month after that too.”

Apart from low immunization rates, factors that contribute to the spread of polio, dengue and measles include low health literacy, unsafe water, poor sanitation, poor living conditions, high rates of chronic childhood malnutrition and poor access to healthcare. The Red Cross is also planning to reach 1 million people with life-saving health, hygiene and sanitation information.

IFRC Philippines Head of Country Office Chris Staines said:

“The current outbreaks of measles and polio in the Philippines are a serious risk. There is a real danger that the situation could return these preventable diseases to being endemic. While mass immunization right now, successfully implemented, will stop the transmission, we need routine vaccination for several years to bring these diseases under control.”

Polio, measles and dengue fever have featured at the 16th annual South-East Asia Red Cross and Red Crescent leaders’ meeting in Manila, attended by Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam, and IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

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