DOH, WHO, UNICEF to Boost Child Immunization Rate in the Philippines
Joint Press Release
MANILA, 17 August 2023 – The Department of Health (DOH), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), donor governments, the private sector, and civil societies converged today, 17 August 2023, for a stakeholder summit to discuss urgent actions to close the child immunization gap.
The summit, “Closing the Immunization Gap,” was participated in by national and local officials, development partners, professional associations, business partners, religious groups, and youth organizations to demonstrate that looking after children’s health and well-being is everyone’s responsibility. It also served as an avenue to secure public commitments and mobilize additional resources to help the DOH accelerate fiscal and legislative reforms, local government action, improvements to vaccine program management, cold chain and supply chain management, and communication and information systems management.
Participants discussed needed reforms in immunization such as amending the Immunization Law, increasing investments in strengthening primary health care (PHC) as a key platform for immunization services, key health system strengthening building blocks such as human resources and digitalization, deeper involvement of local chief executives, strengthening of the supply chain, and intensifying communication activities, among others. Best practices were also shared, such as the success of the City of Manila in reaching vulnerable populations, and a youth-led initiative to promote children’s immunization during COVID-19.
“The DOH reaffirms its commitment to end the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases among children. By encouraging both children and their parents to religiously get routine immunization, we also give children an additional layer of protection against VPDs, dahil sa Healthy Pilipinas… Bawat Buhay ay Mahalaga,” said DOH Secretary Teodoro Herbosa.
According to UNICEF and the WHO under the estimates of National Immunization Coverage (WUENIC) 2022, the Philippines remains among the top five (5) countries with the most number of zero-dose children globally and the greatest contributor to the number of zero-dose children in East Asia and the Pacific Region. Despite progress in reducing the number of zero-dose or unvaccinated children between 2021 and 2022 from around 1 million to 637,000 children for those born within 2022, more work needs to be done to reach the ideal 95 per cent coverage, especially for those not reached in previous years.
“Until all of us come together to mend the gaps in routine immunization coverage, children in the Philippines will remain at risk of contracting and dying from diseases we can prevent. Vaccinating children gives them an added layer of defense against the many vulnerabilities they face, such as a lack of a safe and secure environment, and stable and healthy nutrition. Let’s reignite our shared ambition of leaving no child behind,” said UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov.
“The immunization summit offers us a unique opportunity to review the national immunization program, to learn from each other’s experiences, and as a result, to develop a comprehensive plan to overcome the challenges and enhance immunization coverage for Filipino children. WHO calls upon legislators, decision-makers, local chief executives, and partners: let us take an active role in propelling this crucial program towards its ultimate success – achieving over 90% coverage of the target for every vaccine,” said Dr. Rui Paulo de Jesus, WHO Representative to the Philippines.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in the Philippines, visit www.unicef.ph.