Free rotavirus vaccination for Filipino children announced by DOH

Rotavirus in Children

Good news to all Filipino children! The Department of Health (DOH) has begun the motion to include Rotavirus Vaccination in its health program “Expanded Program for Immunization” (EPI) in 2012. Administered orally, it is expected that free rotavirus vaccine will become available in local health centers late 2012 or early 2013. Rotavirus is the second leading killer of children aged five years or less in the Philippines and worldwide.

Although a common occurrence, parents should not dismiss “pagtatae” or diarrhea as a trivial inconvenience. In the Philippines and worldwide, diarrhea is the second leading killer of children aged less than five years old. Every day 1,500 children around the globe die because of rotavirus-related diarrhea.

Aside from the risk of death, diarrhea affects nutrient absorption, which has a lasting impact on a child’s growth and development. It has been attributed to growth shortfalls of up to 8.2 centimeters by the age of seven, with profound effects on fitness, cognition, and learning. It has been said that children who regularly suffer from diarrhea in the first two years of life can lead to a loss of 10 IQ points and 12 months of schooling by the age of nine.

Rotavirus is the leading cause of diarrhea in the Philippines and worldwide. Every minute, one child dies of diarrhea worldwide. In the Philippines, at least 13 children under five years old die every day.

Led by Secretary Enrique Ona, the Department of Health (DOH) has announced to media its intention to include Rotavirus Vaccination as part of the Expanded Program for Immunization (EPI) in 2012. This is aligned with P-Noy Administration’s direction and goal of Universal Health Care and moves the Philippines forward in achieving Millenium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4) which focuses on Reduced Child Mortality by 2015.

If properly implemented, the Philippines may be the very first Asian Country to implement Rotavirus Vaccination in its national immunization program.