Press Release
September 20, 2019


Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday called on the Department of Health (DOH) to replicate the success of Oplan Alis Disase and to strengthen vaccination efforts and the promotion of good hygiene and sanitation practices as a response to the recently declared polio outbreak in Lanao del Sur.

The case, which was detected last Thursday, is the first instance of polio in the Philippines in 19 years. Aside from the recent polio outbreak, the country also faces a measles crisis in at least four regions, as well as a dengue epidemic.

"We had been a polio-free nation for 19 years. And the resurgence of the disease is alarming, not only because of the harm and risk that this brings to our communities, but more importantly, because this disease is completely preventable in the 21st century. I call on the DOH to replicate its success when it first eradicated polio during the term of Senator Juan Flavier under the program of Oplan Alis Disease," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros said that Oplan Alis Disease was a massive immunization campaign against polio which led to the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the Philippines polio free in 2000. She said that the success was achieved thanks to the combined efforts of both the public and private sectors and civic organizations.

It was reported that the Philippines has experienced a steadily declining trend in vaccine coverage, from above 80% in 2008, to below 70% in 2017. The vaccination coverage target set by the DOH is 95%.

Realign intel fund to health, restore DOH's 2020 budget. Meanwhile, Hontiveros reiterated her call to realign Malacañang's proposed increase in its intelligence fund in the 2020 budget to the health department. She said that the Office of the President has requested an additional P2 billion in confidential and intelligence funds, or nearly double this year's total of P2.5 billion.

The Senator also pushed for the restoration of the DOH's proposed 2020 budget. She said that under the proposed national budget for 2020, the DOH is set to receive only P160.15 billion, or 5 percent lower than this year's allocation of P169.45 billion.

"Ilaan ang lahat ng mailalaan na pondo sa serbisyong pangkalusugan. Unahin natin ang pagtulong sa libo-libong Pilipino na nagkakasakit at namamatay dahil sa iba't-ibang epidemiya imbes na sa mga kwestyonableng gastusin," Hontiveros said.

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