UNICEF, protecting every child in the Philippines now and then through the power of vaccines

A look back at some highlights of UNICEF’s work in the Philippines to help reach every child in the country with safe, effective and life-saving vaccines.

UNICEF Philippines
Nurses from a BCG vaccination team tests a boy for tuberculosis, at a table set up near a tree where their truck is parked, in the province of Batangas. 1956.
UNICEF/1956
23 April 2021

Every child has the right to a healthy start in life. UNICEF, for almost 75 years, has been working hand-in-hand with the Philippine Government to ensure that every child in the Philippines is protected from life-threatening and vaccine-preventable diseases as soon as they are born.  

A child who is not fully immunized is more likely to get sick with vaccine-preventable disease, become disabled, and could possibly die. This is why it’s critical that every child completes routine immunization according to schedule. Vaccines are among the greatest advances of modern medicine. It has prevented people from acquiring lifelong disabilities, eradicated small pox, and almost eliminated the scourge of diseases such as measles and polio.

Vaccines save millions of lives every year.  

As UNICEF celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2021, we look back at some highlights of UNICEF’s work in the Philippines to help reach every child in the country with safe, effective and life-saving vaccines. 

UNICEF has been in the Philippines  for almost 75 years working hand-in-hand  with the Philippine Government to ensure every Filipino child is protected from life-threatening and vaccine-preventable diseases as soon as they are born. 

A mobile tuberculosis vaccination team sets up a vaccination post in the shade of a village headman’s house in Bulacan Province in the Philippines. 1952.
UNICEF/1952
A mobile tuberculosis vaccination team sets up a vaccination post in the shade of a village headman’s house in Bulacan Province in the Philippines.

1948:

UNICEF opens its office in Manila. Soon after, health programmes made their way to the country including battling tuberculosis and reducing infant and child mortality and morbidity. 

1950s:

UNICEF carried out anti-malaria campaigns and immunization drives against contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, yaws (a chronic infection that affects mainly the skin, bone and cartilage) and other childhood diseases. By the end of the 1950s, the anti-yaws campaign covered all affected areas in the Philippines.

A woman holding her baby sits close by a health worker at a health centre in Manila, Philippines. 1996.
UNICEF/1996/Noorani
While a health worker prepares a baby's health card, a woman sits close by holding the baby to be vaccinated, at the Dona Martha health centre in Manila, Philippines.

1970s:

UNICEF assisted the Philippine Government in launching an immunization programme against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, tuberculosis, and polio, taking into consideration the needs of children living in slum areas. 

1990s:

The Philippines began buying its own vaccines through its vaccine independence initiative, from which the country could get vaccine supplies under flexible payment terms. UNICEF supported the programme in bridging payment intervals.

a health worker holds a syringe to give a measles injection to a child at a UNICEF-assisted health centre in Negros Oriental, central Philippines. 2004.
UNICEF/2004/Bondoc
The hand of a health worker holds a syringe to give a measles injection to a child at a UNICEF-assisted health centre in Negros Oriental province, in the Visayas, central Philippines.

2000s:

Three decades after the national vaccination programme started, polio was declared eradicated in the Philippines. Immunization drives continued to reach remote villages. UNICEF and WHO provided technical and funding support for training health workers and supported the Department of Health in procuring vaccines to eliminate measles in the country. 

Dr. Nicholas Alipui, UNICEF Philippines Representative from 2004 to 2008, vaccinates a child during a field mission in a remote community in Mindanao under the Days of Peace Campaign. 2007.
UNICEF/2007/Mike Alquinto
Dr. Nicholas Alipui, UNICEF Philippines Representative from 2004 to 2008, vaccinates a child during a field mission in a remote community in Mindanao under the Days of Peace Campaign in 2007.

2007:

UNICEF launched the Days of Peace campaign in Mindanao following the signing of a Joint Communiqué between UNICEF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The ceasefire enabled health workers to reach children in conflict-affected areas with essential and life-saving health services, many of which were suspended because of the armed conflict. By providing vaccines to communities, the campaign helped reestablish routine immunization services in these areas.

A 3-year old boy is vaccinated against measles at an evacuation centre in Tacloban, Eastern Visayas in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan.
UNICEF/2013/Diana Valcarcel
Justin Max, 3, is vaccinated against measles at the Rizal evacuation centre in Tacloban City, Leyte Province, Eastern Visayas Region in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

2013:

In the wake of destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan, UNICEF and WHO supported the Government-led emergency and relief operations in vaccinating 33,000 children under the age of 5 in the typhoon-affected city of Tacloban to give protection against measles and polio. 

2017:

 The Philippines eliminates maternal and neonatal tetanus. UNICEF, with WHO, played an active role in supporting the Department of Health in defeating this disease that killed 34,000 newborns globally in 2015. Deaths caused by maternal and neonatal tetanus can be prevented through hygienic practices in delivery and cord care, and by immunizing women and children with the tetanus vaccine.

Holding their children in their arms, women wait outside Lower Bicutan Health Centre to vaccinate their children in Taguig City. 2019.
UNICEF/2019/Noorani
Holding their children in their arms, women wait outside Lower Bicutan Health Centre to vaccinate their children in Taguig City. The Philippines.

2019:

The Department of Health declared a polio outbreak in the country after eradicating the poliovirus nearly two decades ago. UNICEF and WHO supported the Philippine Government to increase immunization coverage via supplementary immunization activities to stop polio transmission in the country.

A UNICEF staff member assists a parent who brought her child to a health center to be vaccinated for polio.
UNICEF Philippines/2020

2020:

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF continued to support the Department of Health to ensure the continuity of its routine immunization programme and supplementary immunization activities for polio and measles.

UNICEF also assisted the Philippine Government in its application to the COVAX Facility; a global initiative led by WHO, Gavi, and CEPI, that ensures low- and middle-income countries with fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. UNICEF supported the national COVID-19 vaccination roll-out in coordination, capacity building, supply chain systems, and communication and advocacy efforts at national and sub-national levels. 

A nurse assigned at the isolation and ICU wards of Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, gets her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine provided by the COVAX Facility.
UNICEF/UN0428439/Verzosa
Kareen Mae Abalahin, 32, a nurse assigned at the isolation and ICU wards of Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, gets her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine provided by the COVAX Facility.

2021:

UNICEF started delivering COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility to the country to support the Philippine Government’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout to priority populations such as health workers. UNICEF, with support from its donors, is providing cold-chain equipment and training for health workers for the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

As UNICEF marks its 75th year, we continue to work towards a world where every child enjoys their right to good health, and no child dies from vaccine-preventable diseases.  

We will not go back to normal after COVID-19. We reimagine and rebuild a better world because, for many children in the Philippines, the normal was never good enough. Together with the Philippine Government, we will accelerate our efforts to ensure that every child is vaccinated and protected from life-threatening diseases.

 


 

Help protect more children in the Philippines from vaccine-preventable diseases

UNICEF works with the Department of Health to improve routine immunization coverage in the country, especially in remote and hard-to-reach areas. Today, around 6 million Filipino children under five years old still need immunization against polio and measles-rubella, diseases that may cause lifelong disability or death.

You can help protect children and ensure that every Filipino child can enjoy their right to good health by donating to UNICEF. Every donation helps us reach more children in the most disadvantaged and remote communities with life-saving vaccines.

Donate now at donate.unicef.ph