Cotabato City (April 29, 2020)—Despite the challenges the country is facing with Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) pandemic, the Bangsamoro Government, through its Ministry of Health (MOH), vows to continue fighting vaccine-preventable diseases.
This was the commitment of MOH Minister Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan to the Bangsamoro children as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) celebrates World Immunization Week on Wednesday, April 19.
“Asahan po ninyo na gagawin namin ang lahat ng aming makakaya, tulad po ng ginawa namin noong ‘All Out War Against Poliovirus’, para masigurado na ligtas ang ating mga anak gamit ang pagbabakuna sa mga tinatawag natin na vaccine-preventable diseases,” Dipatuan said.[Rest assured we will do the best that we can, just like what we did during the ‘All Out War Against Poliovirus’, to ensure that our children are protected, through the immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases.]
Dipatuan recalled that during the re-emergence of the poliovirus outbreak in the Philippines last year, he declared an “All Out War Against Poliovirus” immunization program to vaccinate over 50,000 children in BARMM.
In the implementation of the government’s “Sabayang Patak kontra Polio”, Dipatuad said, “Noong inilunsad natin yung all out war, kasama po tayo sa mga (rehiyong) nanguna sa ranking. Sometimes we rank second. Ang pinakamababa po nating rangko ay third all over Mindanao.”[When we launched the all out war, we were among the regions who topped the ranking. Sometimes we rank second. Our lowest rank was third all over Mindanao.]
“We want to replicate our success in the all out war against polio. Baka pwede nating i-replicate as all out war against vaccine-preventable diseases. ‘Yun ang gusto nating mangyari,” Dipatuan stressed.[We want to replicate our success in the all out war against polio. Maybe we can replicate it as all out war against vaccine-preventable diseases. That’s what we want to happen.]
However, Dipatuan stressed that it can only be done if challenges are properly addressed. Among these challenges include the availability of vaccines, issues on the cold chain management for vaccines, logistics and financial support for the health workers, and traditional belief of some Muslims that vaccination is not Halal.
The Minister also reminded the public to continue the immunization of their children despite the struggle that Philippine health services face during the Covid-19 crisis.
“Aming mahal na mga kababayan, habang ating nilalabanan ang Covid-19 na siyang nagpapahirap ng sitwasyon natin sa mga panahong ito, ‘wag po sana natin kaligtaan ang iba pang mahahalagang panukalang pangkalusugan kagaya ng pagbabakuna sa inyong mga anak,” Dipatuan said.[To our beloved constituents, while we continue fighting the Covid-19, may we not forget other important health measures, such as the immunization for your children.]
“Tandaan po natin na ang mga sakit na pinipigilan ng ating routine immunization ay maaaring higit pang mapanganib o di kaya’y kapantay sa Covid-19. Dahil dito, nais naming bigyang diin ang tuloy-tuloy na pagbabakuna sa inyong mga anak upang mapanatili silang malusog at ligtas sa kanilang paglaki,” Dipatuan added.[We must remember that the diseases being prevented by our routine immunization might be more or as perilous as the Covid-19. Because of this, we strongly encourage you to continue the immunization of your children to keep them healthy and protected as they grow older.]
Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which aids national efforts to improve health and general welfare of children, is also working with the Bangsamoro Government to help fight Covid-19 as well as other vaccine-preventable diseases
UNICEF encourages Local Government Units (LGUs), including BARMM LGUs, to continue immunization activities if feasible, especially those with no known cases of Covid-19 and those who have adequate immunization staff and vaccines.
UNICEF Philippines Country Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov said, “we must do all that we can to support, empower and invest in their safety, training and well-being, as they encourage parents to vaccinate against preventable diseases that remain a very real threat to children.”
World Immunization Week is celebrated every year from April 24 to 30. It aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against diseases. This year’s theme is #VaccinesWorkforAll and “Sa Universal Healthcare BAKUNA ang Una!” (Bureau of Public Information)