A boy gets vaccinated for measles-rubella during a mass immunization campaign in Region VIII, which UNICEF supported. ©UNICEF Philippines/2014/Joey Reyna

How does UNICEF help increase immunization coverage in the Philippines?

Children have the right to be healthy. Immunization protects children from life-threatening diseases such as measles, tetanus, polio, diphtheria, pertussis, pneumonia, meningitis, hepatitis B and extrapulmonary tuberculosis. A child who is not immunized is more likely to get sick, become disabled or malnourished, and could possibly die. This is why early and complete immunization is critical for children.

However, immunization coverage in the Philippines is declining. This increases the risk of outbreaks and the re-emergence of deadly diseases. Here’s how UNICEF is helping increase immunization coverage in the Philippines to protect children from diseases and ensure that they grow up healthy:

Vaccines stored inside a special freezer provided by UNICEF to the Sagkahan District Health and Birthing Centre in Tacloban City, Philippines. UNICEF supported the Philippine government to re-establish its national immunization programme in areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan. ©UNICEF Philippines/2014/Joey Reyna

Provision of cold chain equipment

UNICEF has provided cold chain equipment to the Department of Health. A cold chain is a system of storage and transportation links that keep vaccines at the correct temperature. This maintains the quality and ability of vaccines to give protection against diseases while they are being delivered to different parts of the country.

Solar-powered vaccine refrigerators being installed at a health center in Culasi, Antique. ©UNICEF Philippines

To ensure that the cold chain in the Philippines is disaster-resilient, UNICEF provided special equipment such as solar-powered and flood-proof refrigerators, back-up power generators, and refrigerators that can run for more than 10 days without electricity in areas that are prone to being affected by typhoons.

Awareness-raising and social mobilization

To help increase awareness and demand for vaccines, UNICEF continues to provide technical support to the Department of Health and other partners in the development of communication strategies and mass immunization campaigns to promote immunization in the Philippines. UNICEF also provides support in the development of TV ads, communication tools for health workers, and advocacy materials for decision-makers.

A UNICEF staff member inspects vaccines with volunteer health workers at a government health center in Happyland, a slum in Manila, Philippines. ©UNICEF Philippines/2017/AC Dimatatac

Training for health workers

UNICEF trains health workers at the national, regional and local government levels to increase their capacity to reach and immunize every child, especially in disadvantaged and heard-to-reach areas in the Philippines such as remote rural villages, congested urban poor communities and provinces affected by armed conflict and disasters. UNICEF also support training programs in cold chain and vaccine management to ensure that health workers are equipped with the required knowledge and skills to maintain vaccine potency.

A UNICEF staff member and health workers discuss immunization coverage in Happyland, a slum in Manila, Philippines. ©UNICEF Philippines/2017/AC Dimatatac

Data management

UNICEF helps the Department of Health in monitoring immunization coverage in the Philippines. UNICEF also developed monitoring tools such as electronic Target Client Lists to make the recording, analysis, storage and retrieval of immunization data easier for local government units. Through effective data management, gaps in immunization coverage and vaccines supply can be identified and quickly addressed.

A child receives oral polio vaccine during a mass immunization campaign in Tanauan, Leyte, four weeks after Typhoon Haiyan hit the area. UNICEF and partners supported the Department of Health to provide polio, measles and vitamin A vaccines for children affected by the typhoon. ©UNICEF Philippines/2013

Immunization in emergencies

Diseases can spread quickly in congested places such as evacuation centers. The displacement of people also often leads to the spread of contagious or transmittable diseases. This is why UNICEF supports measles and polio immunization of children in refugee or disaster situations as part of its emergency response.

In large-scale emergencies such as Typhoon Haiyan, UNICEF procures vaccines and other supplies so that children in evacuation centres and affected communities can be immediately immunized.

Government leaders, health workers and other stakeholders attend a UNICEF workshop on increasing immunization coverage in the most disadvantaged communities in the Philippines. ©UNICEF Philippines/2017/Donna Anabieza

Improving governance and leadership

UNICEF has been supporting advocacy and capacity-building activities for decision-makers and policymakers of different government agencies. This improves their capacity to implement immunization programs, increasing support for the National Immunization Program in the Philippines.

Vaccines stored in a special freezer at a health center in Happyland, a slum in Manila, Philippines. ©UNICEF Philippines/2017/AC Dimatatac

Supporting vaccine procurement

UNICEF is the leading agency for vaccine procurement globally. In the Philippines, UNICEF supports the government in ensuring that quality, affordable vaccines are provided to children in a timely manner.

To learn more about UNICEF’s work in the Philippines, visit www.unicef.ph.