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3 Cotabato towns declared zero open defecation areas amid polio threat

KIDAPAWAN CITY —At least three towns in North Cotabato have been declared ‘zero open defecation’ (ZOD) areas, amid efforts to combat the threat of poliovirus.

Doctor Eva Rabaya, head of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) in Cotabato, identified President Roxas, Antipas, and Arakan towns –all located in the Arakan Valley Development Complex –as ZOD areas.

Likewise, Rabaya said the local government units of M’lang, and Midsayap are still trying to reach the ZOD status.

Rabaya pointed out that an area is considered "open defecation free" when each household in the community has a toilet readily accessible.   Also, if there is a behavior change among the populace because they would now opt using toilets rather than defecate in open spaces.    

According to Rabaya, since the outbreak of polio in September 2019, the IPHO has intensified its campaign to make every town in North Cotabato "open defecation free" municipalities.

She explained the contamination starts when poliovirus in feces entered the body through contact with an infected person’s human waste.

“Polio is a highly contagious disease caused by poliovirus invading the nervous system.   This can be fatal, depending on how strong one’s immune system is.  That is why we are intensifying our ZOD campaign,” she stressed.

Also, the IPHO will implement —starting January 20, another round of massive anti-polio vaccination will be conducted, which ends on February 2, 2020.

Rabaya said they will visit each house, even in remotest villages, to convince parents and guardians to allow their children ages zero to 59 months to be given oral polio vaccine (OPV).

The campaign aims at eradicating the virus in the years to come.

In North Cotabato, only one polio case was confirmed in November 2019.   The patient was a child from Barangay Kadingasan, Midsayap. 

Cotabato's polio case was confirmed as seven new polio cases were monitored in seven towns in nearby Maguindanao province. 

Maguindanao's Rajah Buayan, Sharif Saydona, Datu Piang, Datu Anggal Midtimbang, Datu Hofer, Datu Odin Sinsuat, and Datu Abdullah Sangki towns have each one confirmed polio case.  —LBG, GMA News