The online news portal of TV5
President Benigno Aquino III on Monday led the launch of the rotavirus vaccination for infants, making the Philippines the first country in Southeast Asia to include the life-saving vaccine against diarrhea in the government's immunization program.
Aquino also witnessed the launching of the "Z benefits" of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. covering catastrophic illnesses.
PhilHealth will pay P100,000 for breast cancer, P210,000 for standard risk childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia, and P100,000 for prostate cancer.
The government has identified 22 hospitals contracted to provide the Z benefit package.
In Metro Manila, these include the Philippine General Hospital and the Philippine Children's Medical Center for leukemia; Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, East Avenue Medical Center, Rizal Medical Center and Quirino Memorial Medical Center for breast cancer and prostate cancer; and the National Kidney Transplant Institute for kidney transplants.
On the other hand, rotavirus vaccination infant beneficiaries, aged 1 1/2 months up to 3 1/2 months, belong to families listed in the National Housing Targeting System for Poverty Reduction.
An estimated 700,000 infants from the poorest communities in the country which have the highest morbidity and mortality rates from diarrheal diseases will be vaccinated this year, Aquino said.
"The overall health of Filipinos remain our top priority," Aquino said, adding that the vaccine would ensure that the health and well-being of Filipino children are safeguarded.
According to the World Health Organization, rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea in infants and children.
The virus results in deaths of about 600,000 children and over 2 million hospitalizations worldwide annually.
Recurrence of infections with different viral strains is possible, and approximately all children have had rotavirus infection by the time they are five years of age.
"The Department of Health is committed to reduce infant and child mortality by improving access to adequate child health care services, particularly for the poorest of the poor. The introduction of rotavirus vaccination is a step towards attaining our Millennium Development Goals of lowering infant and child mortality," Department of Health Secretary Enrique Ona said. InterAksyon.com