Duque on vaccines

DuqueHealth Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, during the 19th Philippine National Immunization Conference, stressed to fellow health workers and participants that vaccination has been proven to be the most successful and cost-effective medical intervention ever introduced, saving millions of lives every year and preventing countless illnesses among individuals, families, and communities. He added that vaccines play a key role in national health and development but their broader value today is still highly underestimated.

The Philippine government is committed to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and a huge step towards the realization of these goals is reducing child mortality and morbidity from vaccine-preventable diseases.

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Over the years, vaccination has improved the lives of the people, especially the poor, with the collaborative efforts of diligent health workers, development partners, as well as other government and non-government affiliates. However, in the light of recent controversies hounding the government’s immunization program, Duque appealed to all Filipinos to work together in changing the prevailing mindset to win back vaccine confidence.


The Philippines has one of the highest rates of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in the world. Despite Government TB clinics that can treat this, fully 4% of new cases are MDR-TB.

Image/Philippines DOH
Image/Philippines DOH

According to the latest data, 27,000 Filipinos were diagnosed with MDR-TB in 2017.

This is issue is multi-faceted. 1 in 3 patients are still on monotherapy, a sub-standard treatment in which patients are more likely to develop antimicrobial resistance.

Combination therapy is the WHO standard of care. Combination therapy consists of an initial two-month phase of isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol (quadtab combined therapy). This is followed by a four-month phase of isoniazid and rifampicin (dual tab combined therapy).

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In addition, patients are not completing the 6 months dosage.