Philippines begins polio vaccination campaign hinh anh 1Secretary of the Department of Health of the Philippines Francisco Duque (centre) joins the vaccination campaign in Manila (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Philippines on September 20 began a campaign to vaccinate millions of children against polio after the disease made a return to the country after nearly two decades.

Addressing the launch of the vaccination campaign in Manila, Secretary of the Department of Health Francisco Duque urged parents, carers of under-five children, health workers and local governments to actively participate in the vaccination campaign to ensure children’s health.

According to the Department of Health, the rate of vaccination against polio in Mania dropped to under 24 percent of children in June this year, compared to more than 77 percent in 2016, which poses a high risk of the return of polio to the city.

On September 19, the department announced the return of the disease with a confirmed case in Lanao del Sur province. The next day, the department said a five-year-old boy in a province near Manila contracted the virus last month.

The department attributed the return of the disease to the low vaccination rate, poor waste treatment and environmental hygiene and a lax control of diseases.

Polio is an infectious disease which spreads rapidly. It can cause paralysis and, on rare occasions, can be fatal. There is no cure for polio. However, it can be prevented with multiple doses of polio vaccines that have long been proven safe and effective.

According to WHO statistics, the number of polio infections reduced from over 350,000 in 1988 to just 33 last year, thanks to countries’ efforts. At present, only three countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) have never stopped transmission of polio./.