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Polio re-emerges in PHL —DOH

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday said that polio is re-emerging in the Philippines, with one confirmed case in Lanao Del Sur.

"One polio case was confirmed in a 3-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur. Aside from the confirmed case, a suspected case of acute flaccid paralysis is awaiting confirmation," Duque said in a press conference in Manila.

The Philippines has been polio-free in the last 19 years.

The polio-positive girl from Lanao del Sur currently suffers from residual paralysis, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

The onset of her illness was recorded on June 26, 2019 and the results of her stool examination showed on September 14, 2019 that she has vaccine-derived polio virus type 2.

"In addition, the poliovirus has been detected in samples taken from sewage in Manila and waterways in Davao as part of the regular environmental surveillance," he added.

Duque underscored that these results already suggest that there is an epidemic in the country, given that it has been polio-free for the last 19 years.

In response, the DOH will launch a series of synchronized oral  polio vaccinations for children under 5 years old in Metro Manila, Davao, and Lanao del Sur starting October 14, 2019.

"Aside from immunization, we remind the public to practice good personal hygiene, wash their hands regularly, use toilets, drink safe water, and cook food thoroughly," Duque said.

Zero open defecation

In the wake of polio's re-emergence in the Philippines, the DOH said it would identify funds for construction of more toilets to achieve zero open defecation.

"'Yung open defecation kasi is really a problem. This is [polio] one of those diseases na talagang nag-eemerge kapag mayroon tayong open defecation at saka 'yung ating waste disposal ay maaaring ma-contaminate 'yung ating water supply," DOH spokesperson Usec. Eric Domingo told reporters on Thursday.

He added that Metro Manila has the highest demand for additional sanitary toilets.

"NCR talaga ang pinakamadami. Out of the 3.5 million na toilets, ang majority noon sa NCR... toilets ng mga pamilya at saka ng mga bahay. Talagang maraming families na walang sanitary toilet," Domingo said. —LDF/NB, GMA News