Response to pandemic A H1N1

Turn-Over of Vaccines from Dr. Soe Nyunt-U, WHO Representative, to Usec. David Lozada of DOH April 19, 2010 DOH Compound, Manila.

In late April to May 2009, at the start of the H1N1 Pandemic, the Philippines initially sought to contain the spread of the virus by mobilizing health officials nationwide to limit the entry of the virus in the country. Under the leadership of the Department of Health and in coordination with the WHO, interim guidelines in the prevention and control of the H1N1 virus infection were developed and disseminated to regional and local health offices and other government agencies.

In early June 2009, school suspensions were being recommended in the light of widespread community transmission, and WHO had eventually declared the highest pandemic alert level on 11 June , 2009. wHO helped the country in the assessment of the risk of the infections and in the crucial development of the mitigation strategy for pandemic H1N1 influenza. Missions to different regions of the Philippines were conducted to help develop the Regional Mitigation Plan for H1N1 at the different levels of health care delivery. The objectives of the DOH Mitigation Response to Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Infection were:

  • to slow down the virus spread in the community and minimize transmission to the most vulnerable group;
  • to improve health facility preparedness in providing necessary treatment, particularly for severe cases; and
  • to reduce mortality impact and minimize social disruption and other negative consequences.

Towards the end of 2009 and in the first few months of 2010, the H1N1 virus was found to be the most prevalent circulating influenza virus strain worldwide. WHO facilitated the donation of pandemic H1N1 vaccines to the Philippines and the development of guidelines for its deployment and distribution.

A national orientation on vaccine deployment and vaccination strategies was conducted in mid-March of 2010. After the first batch of 1.9 million doses of vaccines arrived on 28 March 2010, orientations were then cascaded to the local levels prior to a nationwide launch of the vaccination in April. Vaccination started among health workers and was subsequently provided to all other priority groups. In June 23, 2010, a second shipment of 1.5 million doses of donated vaccines were provided by WHO. With the declaration of the post-pandemic periodon August 10, continuation of vaccinations was recommended to ensure the protection of high-risk groups against H1N1.