Prince Charles secures 5M vaccines for PH typhoon victims
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, has set up for the delivery of 5 million doses of measles and rubella vaccine to victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).
Health Secretary Enique Ona signed a Deed of Donation accepting the 5 million doses of the vaccine, which came via the Prince's charity, International Health Partners (IHP) and were provided by the Serum Institute after Prince Charles asked them to donate vaccines to help the country.
CNN reports that Prince Charles was in India when Haiyan hit the Philippines last November 8. Following the news of the storm's effects, he went to the Serum Institute in Pune on November 10 to solicit donations to help the Philippines.
The Serum Institute – as the world's largest measles vaccine maker – offered to donate 5 million doses of the vaccine to the Philippines. IHP will take care of delivery duties.
Ona explained in a statement that the vaccines would be needed for 13 million children under the age of 5 as part of a mass immunization campaign in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO). As children below 5 have the greatest risk of catching measles, the donation should help bring immunization coverage to around 95%.
Measles is categorized as a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It is spread easily others by sneezing, coughing, and close personal contact. Those who acquire it stand to have symptoms of coughing, a runny nose, red and sore eyes, fever, and a blotchy rash lasting for more than 3 days.
Prevention includes immunization of infants 9 months old and giving Vitamin A supplementation during the routine measles vaccination.
The Philippines' Department of Health cites some 15,600 cases of measles reported in the country within the first 10 weeks of 2014. The number is nearly triple the total amount of cases for 2013, which reached 5,863. (WATCH: #TalkThursday with Enrique Ona: Measles, dengue, and public health)
Ona, speaking on behalf of the Philippines, thanked Prince Charles, the Serum Institute and the IHF for the much-needed assistance. "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,” he notes.
A Clarence House spokesperson said: "After being informed of the offer of a donation by the Serum Institute of India to a cause of his choosing, The Prince was pleased to charge his charities, International Health Partners and the British Asian Trust, to ensure the donation would be part of the ongoing international response to Typhoon Yolanda."
Anthony Dunnett, IHP president, also noted a "pressing need" for a measles vaccination program in the Philippines, as the need showed that the impact of Yolanda lived long past the breakdown of the storm itself. – Victor Barreiro Jr/Rappler.com