The World Health Organization (WHO) has slammed the Philippine government for its lackluster effort to have all its senior citizens, or the elderly sector, receive Covid19 vaccines.
In an extremely unflattering assessment, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative in the Philippines, described the prevailing situation as “unfortunate and unsatisfactory.”
“The Philippines needs to do better,” Abeyasinghe said as he urged concerned officials to prioritize the inoculation of the seniors in order to save lives.
While the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Covid19 has placed the elderly sector in the top priority classification (immediately behind health workers) for vaccination, the data on the ground indicate otherwise.
More than six months after the national vaccination drive started in earnest, Philippine health officials still have to immunize some 3.6 million seniors, the WHO official pointed out. Not one has received even a single dose of the Covid vaccine, he lamented.
“Progress in the Philippines has been painfully slow,” Abeyasinghe said.
He said protecting the most vulnerable has to be prioritized by the government because 70 percent or seven out of 10 coronavirus-related deaths come from those aged 60 years and above.
Abeyasinghe added this snail-paced vaccination rate among seniors leaves the Philippines vulnerable to hospitals being overwhelmed by senior citizens with severe Covid infections, especially due to the super-transmissible Delta variant.
“Not vaccinating the elderly is unacceptable as there now are adequate vaccine supplies to protect them,” Abeyasinghe said.
The WHO-led COVAX facility is sending some 10 million more vaccine doses to the Philippines soon, he added.
Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler