Earlier this year, I had the scare of my life when my youngest daughter Lucia got confined in the hospital because of a preventable disease (measles). I skipped an immunization cycle because of an old wives’ tale of the MMR vaccine causing autism.
Anyway, that’s all behind us now because my little one recovered in due time and is now back to her hyper self. What the whole incident taught me is that vaccination should never be taken for granted. It is the very one thing that saves children’s lives!
Pneumonia and diarrhea or rotavirus gastroenteritis are the leading causes of childhood deaths worldwide. In the Philippines, for example, an estimated 37 children die of pneumonia everyday while for diarrhea, it’s at the rate of 13 kids daily.
The truth is, no child has to die because of pneumonia or rotavirus diseases, especially since these are both highly preventable. Early protection is key. Breastfeeding, hand washing, preventing air pollution, and adequate nutrition are factors but the most important of all is vaccination.
“Now is the best time to raise awareness on pneumonia and diarrhea prevention. These diseases should not cause unnecessary suffering among young children,” says Dr. Sally Gatchalian, Philippine Foundation for Vaccination Director. “Sometimes it’s just that parents don’t know enough about these diseases, and they don’t know that there are actually vaccines for them.”
The Philippine government introduced the Rotavirus vaccine in 2012 as part of its Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). That year, 700,000 Filipino children aged 6 weeks up to 6 months of age were given free rotavirus vaccines.
In 2013, the Department of Health (DOH) leveled up the fight against pneumonia, the top killer of Filipino children by including another novel vaccine called Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) in the EPI.
To boost government efforts, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline will soon launch the “No Hope Lost” campaign to educate the public about the immediate need to get children vaccinated against pneumonia and diarrhea. This will be done through radio ads, print notices, flyers, and posters.
“With the help of our valued pediatricians, and the Department of Health, we are committed to the reduction of pneumonia and diarrhea cases nationwide by supplying high quality vaccines. These diseases account for an alarming almost 50 mortalities per day in the Philippines. GSK is here to support the Filipino medical community and the government’s drive to make health services accessible to everyone,” added Philip Cruz, GSK Medical Director.
GSK has tapped celebrity mom & musician Barbie Almalbis to be the official face of the campaign. Photo shows Barbie (middle) with the GSK team, host Ria Trillo and Dr. Gatchalian during the campaign launch at Makati Shang-ri La recently.