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5 Million Vaccines to Philippines

By IHP, Mar 26 2014 09:00AM

International Health Partners (IHP), today signed an agreement with Dr Enrique T. Ona, Secretary of Health, Republic of Philippines, to deliver a donation of 5 million doses of measles-rubella (MR) vaccine to the country. This donation, along with other such donations, will enable the vaccination of 13 million under-five children during a mass immunization campaign to be undertaken in September 2014 in conjunction with the World Health Organization.

The first six weeks of 2014 saw over 3,691 confirmed measles cases reported in the Philippines, which compares to only 2,956 confirmed cases in the whole of 2013. The ongoing effects of Typhoon Yolanda that hit the country and wider South-East Asia in November 2013, killing over 6,000 people and displacing millions more has exacerbated the spread of measles across the Philippines. The increased number of cases in the last quarter of 2013 prompted the Philippines Department of Health (DOH) to conduct a “catch-up” measles vaccination campaign early this year in the National Capital Regions and two adjacent regions of the country where excessively high number of measles cases were observed.

Children aged 9 to 59 months are most at risk from measles and therefore will be the principal target of the mass immunisation effort. It is estimated that the vaccine donation will protect 5 million under-five children against measles, and will help reduce the risk of premature death caused by serious measles complications. The initiative is a direct response by the Philippines DOH to the increased measles cases and will seek to achieve 95% immunization coverage. The Department previously delivered a highly successful vaccination programme in 2011 which resulted in a significant reduction in measles and rubella transmissions in 2012.

The donation of the 5 million doses of MR vaccine is being made by the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest manufacturer of measles vaccines. The Institute, founded in 1966, will also make available a further 6 million doses, at cost, to UNICEF. HRH The Prince of Wales visited the Serum Institute in Pune during his tour to India in November 2013. During that visit, Cyrus Poonawalla, Founder of the SII, and Adar Poonawalla, Executive Director of the SII, offered to donate five million vaccines to a country of The Prince's choosing.

As Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines while the Prince was in India, he felt that was where the vaccines could be most immediately beneficial. The Prince of Wales then consulted with International Health Partners, a charity of which he is patron, about working with the relevant agencies to get the vaccines to the Philippines.

Dr Enrique T. Ona, Secretary of Health, Republic of Philippines said:

“The country joins me in thanking His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, and the Serum Institute for this gift, a very generous life saving donation. The country also recognises the not-for-profit relief and development organisation, International Health Partners, who responded on the very day the need for the vaccination programme was identified.”

Dr Julie Hall, Country Representative, WHO Philippines said:

“The World Health Organization Philippines is delighted to be part of this important health initiative. Measles is a serious and highly contagious respiratory disease that can be prevented with this safe and effective vaccine. Given the rise of confirmed measles cases, it is very important that all children are protected against the disease. This donation will go a long way to ensure that all 13 million children under the age of 5 in the Philippines have a chance to be vaccinated.”

Anthony Dunnett, President of International Health Partners explains:

“The pressing need to deliver a measles vaccination programme in the Philippines demonstrates the ongoing impact of Typhoon Yolanda. International Health Partners is delighted to be able to facilitate a partnership between the Philippines Department of Health, the World Health Organization and the Serum Institute of India, by utilising our own decade long experience in humanitarian relief to deliver this vital initiative. We are extremely grateful to our patron, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, for enabling this important donation.”