Wednesday, 04 July 2012 12:42
The Department of Health (DOH) will start this July the nationwide giving of rota virus vaccines to infants one-and-a-half months to three-and-a-half months old belonging to identified poorest of the poor in the country.
“This is a breakthrough in Philippine health care as we are the first country in Southeast Asia to introduce and implement this life-saving vaccine in our expanded program of immunization," said Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona.
The health chief was referring to about 700,000 infants belonging to families listed in the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) as part of its national immunization program for children.
President Benigno S. Aquino III and Health Secretary Ona led the ceremonial launching of the rota virus vaccination for eligible infants in Malacananag Monday.
“Under Kalusugan Pangkalahatan, the DOH is committed to reduce infant and child mortality by improving access to adequate child health care services, particularly for the poorest of the poor. The introduction of rota virus vaccination is a step towards attaining our Millennium Development Goals of lowering infant and child mortality,” Ona said.
According to Ona, P630 million is the actual cost of the rota virus vaccines for 2012.
The DOH expects to significantly reduce child mortality and achieve the Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4), ie. reduce by two-thirds the under-five mortality rate by 2015 with the inclusion of rota virus vaccine at the routine immunization for infants.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that rota virus is the most common cause of diarrhea in infants and children, resulting in deaths of about 600,000 children and over two million hospitalizations worldwide every year.
The WHO said recurrence of infections with different viral strains was possible, and approximately all children have had a rotavirus infection by the time they were five years of age.
Meanwhile, President Aquino and Secretary Ona also witnessed the launching of “Z Benefits,” the new PhilHealth benefits covering catastrophic illnesses.
“Catastrophic illnesses initially covered at this point early stage breast cancer, prostate cancer and childhood acute leukemia.” said Ona, who is also the chairman of the PhilHealth Board.
PhilHealth will pay P100,000 for breast cancer, P210,000 for standard risk childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia, and P100,000 for prostate cancer.
“The most important part is that the poor, as identified by the NHTS-PR as well as those enrolled by the local government units under PhilHealth’s Sponsored Program, need not pay a cent when they get treated for these diseases in 22 identified hospitals contracted to provide the Z-benefit package. For our poor, there will be no-balance billing, or walang dagdag bayad.” Ona said.
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