Preventable diseases

March 20, 2020

AS the government implements aggressive measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, there’s now a move in Congress to come up with a mandatory immunization program for preventable diseases.

Statistics show that every year, deadly but preventable diseases, particularly pneumonia, claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world, including poverty-stricken Philippines.

House Deputy Majority Leader and Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera said pneumonia is one of the most dreaded diseases, stressing that it adversely affects children and the elderly.

In fact, pneumonia is among the top killer diseases in the country, where many sick people still die without seeing a medical doctor or other health professionals due to grinding poverty.

As proposed, the mandatory vaccination shall be administered for free in any government or health facility.  The vaccine shall also be administered in any private health facility if such is included in the PhilHealth benefit package.

Moreover, the Department of Health (DoH) shall undertake a school-based and community-based immunization program.

The DoH will implement the immunization program in close collaboration with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

At the same time, Congresswoman Herrera called on the health department to implement an open and competitive bidding process for pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs).

The PCV bidding process, she said, should be open to all suppliers in the market, especially in the light of the most recent studies of global health experts like the World Health Organization (WHO).

Note that the WHO has declared that the two PCVs in the market today are comparable in performance.

Last year, the WHO, in a position paper, said that the two available PCVs in the market – PCV 10 and PCV 13 – are equally effective in preventing overall pneumococcal diseases in children.

The government, through Congress and other concerned offices and agencies, ought to exert all efforts to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the people, particularly the poorest of the poor.