World Polio Day: First step to combat polio: raise public awareness on zero open defecation

ILOILO – Public awareness on polio, a paralyzing and potentially fatal disease that has re-emerged in the country and threatens children, is being seen as the first step to stop it from spreading.

Today is World Polio Day, a fitting day to raise public awareness and gather community support to end the paralyzing disease.

Of particular concern to the Department of Health (DOH) Region 6 are the more than half of barangays in Western Visayas that have not yet achievedzero open defecation (ZOD) status.

Residents of this barangays must be made aware of ZOD’s importance to stop the spread of polio, stressed Dr. Glen Alonsabe, DOH-6 epidemiologist.

Polio or poliomyelitis is a highly contagious disease caused by the poliovirus that lives in an infected person’s throat and intestines. It enters the body through the mouth and spreads through contact with the feces of an infected person and, though less common, through droplets from a sneeze or cough.

Open defecation refers to the practice whereby people go out in fields, bushes, forests, open bodies of water, or other open spaces rather than using the toilet to defecate.

“Kinahanglan gid i-comply sang mga pumoluyo ang ZOD to avoid contaminating the environment. It is the responsibility of the local chief executives nga ipatuman,” Alonsabe stressed.

So far, Western Visayas remains a polio-free region.

However, only 45.27 percent or 1,834 out of 4,051 total barangays in Western Visayas have achieved ZOD status, according to Dr. Sophia Pulmones, DOH-6 Local Health Support Division chief.

The province with the highest accomplishment of ZOD is Capiz (75.5 percent) followed by Iloilo (67.6 percent) and Antique (39 percent).

DOH-6 records also showed that no barangay in two highly urbanized cities – Iloilo City and Bacolod City – has achieved ZOD status.

“Each household must have sanitary toilets,” said Alonsabe.

It was poor sanitation that triggered the re-emergence of the polio virus in Lanao del Sur and Laguna, he added.

Polio symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiff neck and sudden onset of floppy arms or legs. In severe cases, it can lead to permanent paralysis or even death. Children under five years of age are most vulnerable to the disease.

Meanwhile, as part of the World Polio Day observance today in Iloilo, there will be a “fun walk” in Tigbauan, Iloilo. This is in partnership with St. Therese-MTC Colleges Tigbauan Campus, Rotaract-Iloilo South, Rotaract St. Therese-MTC Colleges, Interact St. Therese-MTC Colleges and Senior Executive Council, as well as the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation of Tigbauan.

The fun run assembly time is 6 a.m. at the Tigbauan public plaza.

The run starts from the plaza and ends at the Barangay Parara gymnasium.

This will be followed by a program that includes a talk on polio and the End Polio Program of Rotary International.

There will also be polio immunization of children less than five years of age at the Barangay Parara Health Center.

The program will be capped by the “End Polio Now” commitment signing./PN


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