The Child Menace: Rotavirus

Diarrhea is very common in the Philippines and the whole world through. Statistics show that 1 child dies from diarrhea every minute that passes us by, and around 13 children who are below 5 years old die every day, worldwide!

With the help of Department of Health Secretary Enrique Ona and President Noynoy Aquino, Rotavirus Vaccination is finally part of the Expanded Program for Immunization (EPI) just this year. This is also in alignment with the President's Universal Health Care goal and in achievement for Millenium Development Goal 4, which aims to reduce child mortality by year 2015.

Philippines is the very first Asian Country to include the Rotavirus Vaccination as part of the EPI. Other countries that have the Rotavirus Vaccine are USA, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, Germany, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, Bolivia, and Honduras.

The project aims to give 700,000 free vaccinations (2 dose Rotavirus Vaccine) to the poorest of the poor in the Philippines. 

As for those who can afford to pay the vaccine, rates will range from Php 2,500 - Php 3,500, which varies a lot due to the factory price and the professional fee of the doctor. 

The vaccine should be given to the baby as early as 6 weeks from birth and the maximum age of 8 months for the vaccine to have effect.

Parents should take in mind that the first episode of Rotavirus Diarrhea is the worst so they must make sure that their babies will be vaccinated as soon as possible.

So what is diarrhea to be exact? It is an output of looser than normal stools of at least 3 times within 24 hours. About 13-69% of diarrhea cases here in the Philippines are largely due to Rotavirus.

We should not take diarrhea for granted because they pose serious long term effects of the development of a child and mainly affect a child's height, energy level, and cognitive abilities.

Not only does hospitalization due to diarrhea hurt the family budget, it gives strain on the livelihood of the parents and causes emotional distress as well.

As for the virus itself, it is all around us and can live in surfaces for about a week or so. The Rotavirus is also known as The Great Equalizer because it is present in both developed and developing countries.

As for ways to prevent children from having diarrhea, improved sanitation and clean water supply is not very effective but it does not hurt to maintain those habits. 

Please visit your pediatrician for more details about the disease and the vaccine.

Stay healthy!

* This advocacy event is sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline.

Dr. Juliet Aguilar

Dr. Obra

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