A Catholic bishop in the Philippines has called for a strong response from the government to fight poliovirus, following an announcement last month from health officials that the once-eradicated disease has made a reappearance. “It is very sad that there is a re-emergence of polio after having eliminated it for many years,” Bishop Broderick Pabillo, auxiliary bishop of Manila, said in an article published by the country’s Catholic bishop’s conference.
“This tells us that we should not let down our guard in fighting diseases,” he said.
The Philippines had been polio-free for almost 20 years, but last week, national health officials confirmed the poliovirus in two children, ages five and three, in two different provinces.
Health officials said the poliovirus was also detectable in the sewage of Manila and in the water in the southern Davao region, according to a report from the Associated Press.
“We encourage parents to have their children vaccinated against polio,” Bishop Pabillo said, and added that the government should focus some of their efforts on the education of parents that the vaccine is “safe and necessary”.
“DOH (Department of Health) should also be warned to be very transparent in its programmes to gain the trust of the people and to allay their fears,” Pabillo added.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III urged parents with children aged five and under to participate in coordinated polio vaccinations that will take place in communities throughout the country, it is reported.