(Feature) Aquino administration's investments in vaccination programs will be its legacy —DOH Sec. Garin

April 14, 2016 3:33 am 

By Leilani S. Junio

MANILA, April 10 (PNA) — The government under the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III has made various investments in vaccines and vaccination programs that it will be leaving as a “legacy” for the next generations.

According to Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Janette L. Garin, the latest of such programs is the free dengue immunization program that they started this month for nine-year-old grade 4 children studying in public elementary schools in three targeted regions with high incidence of dengue cases.

‘‘It’s a legacy that we can leave to our children… It’s a legacy that the Aquino government will leave behind,” the Health Chief said.

The three regions covered by the free dengue immunization program are the National Capital Region (NCR), Regions III (Central Luzon) and IV-A (Calabarzon).

Secretary Garin explained that in the efforts to bridge the problems with inequities in healthcare, the Aquino administration has made free and accessible vaccination programs for the poor among its top health priorities in the attainment of Kalusugang Pangkalahatan or Universal Healthcare Agenda.

She recalled that in the past years, there have been several vaccines made available to prevent and reduce the impact of illnesses, but these cannot be accessed by the poor who cannot afford the high costs in private clinics and hospitals.

The Health secretary said that because of “political will” and determination of the government to really not leave behind the poor, the DOH is bringing closer such vaccines to the poor and vulnerable sectors of society so that the vaccines normally meant only for the rich can also be accessed by the poor who also need them.

“Mali ba na hangarin ng departamento (DOH) na ang bakuna para sa mayayaman ay ibigay sa mahihirap? Mali ba na hangarin ng 'Kalusugang Pangkalahatan' na we have equity to health, that we have equity to access and making healthcare a primary program of the government?” the Health Chief said.

In naming the vaccines that have been made accessible to the poor (children and even to the senior citizens), she cited the following as examples:

Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV); Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Vaccine; Tatravalent Vaccine, Pneumoccocal Vaccine; Pneumonia Vaccine (for senior citizens); Flu Vaccine; Measles, Rubella, Diphtheria and Tetanus (MRDT) Vaccine in school–based immunizations and even Rabies Vaccine.

“That’s an evidence on how the government has moved forward to shifting from Oral Polio Vaccine to Inactivated Polio Vaccine; to making Human Papilloma Virus Vaccines or the Cervical Cancer Vaccines available in 20 poorest provinces…. We have included the school-based immunization program which actually covers the two booster doses for the four diseases — Measles, Rubella, Diphtheria and Tetanus or MRDT, among others,” Dr. Garin said.

She added that investing on vaccination programs is in the heart of the administration to help in reducing out-of-pocket expenditures that are usually high in terms of providing the treatment, aside from enduring emotional burden and loss of productivity.

“There are illnesses that can actually be prevented with vaccination; and that is why we have included it in our health agenda,” the Health Chief said.

She also said that while there is no vaccine that will really provide a 100 percent or full protection, the vaccines will significantly help in “cutting” the sources of disease wherein it is actually preventing the transmission because those who have been vaccinated have higher chances of not becoming agents for transmission of the ailment to others.

In addition, those that have been vaccinated will likely experience only milder outcomes in case they are infected by a particular disease (of which the person is vaccinated against) because the immunity against the disease targeted by the vaccine had somehow helped in fighting the severity of the illness.

As an example, if a person has been vaccinated with dengue vaccine, that person is not only protected from dengue, but can help also in reducing the spread of dengue illness to others.

Having more children vaccinated will help in the reduction of hospitalization and other related costs, thus making vaccination a more preventive approach.

Secretary Garin further said that since health is one aspect that cuts across all sectors, illness can actually put down the socioeconomic status of the family far beyond to where it has started.

“Without a healthy population, all these programs – livelihood, education, infrastructures, agriculture – will not be able to achieve the desired goals. That is why we are investing so much in public health,” she stressed.

The investment on health is also very much obvious under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the government being implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to address the inter-generational cycle of poverty.

Under this program, children of the poor household beneficiaries are required to be brought to the health centers to receive the immunization so that they will be healthy and strong while receiving the education in schools in exchange for the monthly cash grants.

By ensuring that children are vaccinated, the government is doing its share that the poor children who will be tomorrow's citizens will be "productive and healthy" and really can actively participate in the country's economic development with "good health and empowered with the knowledge they gain from school because they can concentrate on their studies and not be absent due to sickness."

The government believes that investing on health is one good step in having promising and productive citizens because it is said that “health itself is the true wealth” of a nation. (PNA)

SCS/LSJ/SSC

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