The World Health Organization (WHO) hails immunization as one of modern medicine’s greatest success stories. Since it became a public health intervention, it has controlled — if not eradicated — killer diseases worldwide. In the Philippines, the government’s Expanded Immunization Program of 1976 gave people access to vaccines against prevalent vaccine-preventable diseases.
In 2011, Republic Act 10152 or the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act was signed into law. This law includes mumps, hepatitis-B and H. Influenzae type B to the earlier set of free mandatory vaccines. It also gives the Health Secretary to determine other vaccines to be added through a department circular.
The DOH uses Reaching Every Barangay (REB) approach, the local adaptation to WHO-UNICEF’s Reaching Every District (RED). Supplemental Immunization Activities like school-based immunizations are also conducted to reach children with incomplete vaccination doses.
Because of the health bureau’s active campaign and strenuous monitoring, there’s been a constant decrease in cases of specific diseases. The success also implies general acceptance and cooperation of the majority of Filipinos. But in the late 2016, the first Dengue vaccine was plagued by controversies.
The issue blew out of proportion after many government agencies and politicians were dragged into the scene. As a result, parents across the country refused to avail any vaccines from government health units. A year after the scandal, a measles outbreak took place. The health department doubled their efforts to contain the outbreak while taking measures for damage-control. Half-way through 2019, a Dengue outbreak followed.
Learning from these experiences, the public is easing up on health care interventions. The health department’s latest trust rating rose to 79%, recovering from a slump due to many serious issues. In fact, another new vaccine for Japanese Encephalitis was introduced in selected areas in the country earlier this year.