New York/Manila – Unicef procured 2.5 billion doses of vaccines to children in nearly 100 countries in 2016, reaching almost half of the world’s children under the age of five. The figures, released during World Immunization Week, make Unicef the largest buyer of vaccines for children in the world.
In the Philippines, Unicef procured $33 million worth of vaccines in 2015 and 2016. The UN children’s agency also dedicated $1.5 million worth of technical assistance and supplies to strengthen immunization in urban poor and conflict areas to reach the most disadvantaged children.
Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the three remaining polio-endemic countries, each received more doses of vaccines than any other country, with almost 450 million doses of vaccines procured to children in Nigeria, 395 million in Pakistan and over 150 million in Afghanistan. Unicef is the lead procurement agency for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Access to immunization has led to a dramatic decrease in deaths of children under five from vaccine-preventable diseases, and has brought the world closer to eradicating polio. Between 2000 and 2015, under five deaths due to measles declined by 85 per cent and those due to neonatal tetanus by 83 per cent. A proportion of the 47 per cent reduction in pneumonia deaths and 57 per cent reduction in diarrhea deaths in this time is also attributed to vaccines.
Yet an estimated 19.4 million children around the world still miss out on full vaccinations every year. Around two thirds of all unvaccinated children live in conflict-affected countries. Weak health systems, poverty and social inequities also mean that 1 in 5 children under five is still not reached with life-saving vaccines.
The Philippines has achieved a number of successes in immunization. The immunization program has contributed to the reduction in the under-five mortality rates from 58.2 in 1990 to 28 in 2015 (World Bank, 2016). The country has maintained its polio free status since 2000 and will be validated for Maternal Neonatal Tetanus Elimination this year. Increasing government budget has enabled introduction of new vaccines like PCV13, HPV, IPV, Dengue vaccine and Rotavirus in selected areas. In 2018, Japanese Encephalitis vaccine will also be introduced.
In terms of policy, a law has been enacted that mandates free immunization services for infants and children in all government hospitals and health centers. The provision of immunization services has now been expanded to school children, adolescents and senior citizens.
Despite these achievements, the Philippines has many opportunities for improving the immunization program.
“In the Philippines, there are still millions of unvaccinated children. Children in conflict areas and children in urban poor communities face hazards including overcrowding, unsafe water, air pollution, inadequate sanitation and garbage collection and lack of access to quality health services including vaccines. We must work together to reach all children everywhere, with a particular focus on the most underserved parts of the population,” Unicef Philippines Deputy Representive Julia Rees says.
In the Philippine National Demographic Health Survey of 2013, only 68.5 per cent of children 12-23 months were fully immunized, a drop from 79.5 per cent in 2008. The national immunization coverage for all Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VAPD) is decreasing.
“All children, no matter where they live or what their circumstances are, have the right to survive and thrive, safe from deadly diseases,” said Dr. Robin Nandy, Chief of Immunization at Unicef. “Since 1990, immunization has been a major reason for the substantial drop in child mortality, but despite this progress, 1.5 million children still die from vaccine preventable diseases every year.”
Inequalities persist between rich and poor children. In countries where 80 per cent of the world’s under-five child deaths occur, over half of the poorest children are not fully vaccinated. Globally, the poorest children are nearly twice as likely to die before the age of five as the richest.
“In addition to children living in rural communities where access to services is limited, more and more children living in overcrowded cities and slum dwellings are also missing out on vital vaccinations,” said Nandy. “Overcrowding, poverty, poor hygiene and sanitation as well as inadequate nutrition and health care increase the risk of diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea and measles in these communities; diseases that are easily preventable with vaccines.”
By 2030, an estimated 1 in 4 people will live in urban poor communities, mainly in Africa and Asia, meaning the focus and investment of immunization services must be tailored to the specific needs of these communities and children, UNICEF said.
In the Philippines, Unicef is helping the government reach all children by advocating to leaders at all levels of government to invest in health care to protect children from diseases.
Victoria de Manila 2, regarded as one of Manila’s top-choice condominiums, recently held a top-up ceremony for its 47th floor.
Situated along Taft Avenue at the corner of Malvar Street, the topping-up rite held on April 27, 2017, now makes the condominium the tallest structure in this side of the city.
Victoria de Manila 2 offers tough competition to similar residences in the area, with its pricing and amenities that define what comfortable living is all about. It has a sports complex and offers unit owners and renters transport convince as well as high commercial and resale value.
The condo is within walking distance from various universities like UP Manila, Philippine Women’s University, Philippine Christian University, St. Paul University, De La Salle University, St. Scholastica’s University, Adamson University, Lyceum and Mapua. It is also near shopping centers like Robinson’s and SM, hospitals such as Philippine General Hospital, Ospital ng Maynila, and Manila Doctors’ Hospital.
It’s also just a few minutes’ walk away from the city’s historic sites like Intramuros and Roxas Boulevard.
With all these factors, Victoria de Manila 2 has become a top choice for students, professionals, businessmen and even sports buffs.
Graduates of the Manuel Luis Quezon University (MLQU) have been urged to become the catalyst of change and visionaries of the future. The challenge was made by MLQU president Isagani G. Germar at the recently held 69th commencement exercises held at the school grounds.
Former Vice President Noli de Castro, who delivered the commencement address, and Rep. and former Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte graced the occasion.
In his remarks, Germar said the university’s new graduates from all academic programs will now form part of the rich manpower resource of the nation “whose years of hard work and dedication to their studies have prepared them to become young achievers and to be the best version of themselves.”
“These graduates are expected to banner MLQU’s ethos in making positive impacts in our society. They are tasked to be the catalyst of change assuming the roles of future enablers and leaders. They are the keys to making the impossible and the unbelievable to become realities of life; to triumph in every endeavor and phases of their lives, never doubters but believers of themselves,” Germar added.
MLQU, which is now owned by New San Jose Builders, Inc. (NSJBI), is in the forefront of producing the nation’s future leaders by providing its students with the latest advances in education methodology and state of the art facilities. These will enable all its graduates to cope not only with global changes but in becoming the future game changers and influencers of a global society.
MLQU’s roster of faculty members and deans include, among others, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, Regent and Dean Emeritus College of Law; former Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Perez, Dean of the School of Law; Professor Eric Soriano, Dean of the School of Accountancy, Business and Real Estate Management; and DPWH Undersecretary Raul Asis and former UP Dean of Architecture Danilo Sylvester as special lecturers.