Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Myths and superstitions hamper Philippines immunization drive
Uphill battle to immunize 13 million children in one month
Health workers embarked on a mass immunization drive against deadly diseases this week. (Photo courtesy of WHO)
- Jef Tupas, Davao City
- September 3, 2014
The Philippines government this week launched a mass immunization campaign with the help of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the British government.
But it faces an uphill battle, with many parents fearing adverse side effects and religious ramifications if they partake in the drive to immunize children against measles, polio, and rubella.
"We encounter parents who refuse to have their children immunized because it is supposed to be against their religion," Dr Abdullah Dumama, regional health director for Davao, told ucanews.com.
"We try to convince them that there is nothing in the vaccine that counters their religion.”
Dumama said mothers would hide their children from community health workers. He lamented that the "vulnerability" of unimmunized children is putting other children at risk.
But Marianelle, a 25-year-old mother from Davao region, told ucanews.com she is scared to have her three-year-old daughter vaccinated after her neighbors warned her of the "bad effects" of the vaccine.
"I was told my child would get sick once she gets the medicine,” she said. She claimed that a baby in her village got sick after receiving the measles vaccine.
She said that neither she nor her siblings received any kind of vaccine when they were young. "All of us are healthy. I don’t think there is a need for vaccination."
Armi Capili, coordinator of the Pulse Polio Immunization program, admitted that parents' hesitation to vaccinate their children has become a problem.
"We try to spend time with them. They have to understand the importance of having their children immunized,” she told ucanews.com.
WHO aims is to immunize 13 million children in the Philippines over the coming month.
"WHO is committed to a world in which nobody needs worry about the threat of measles, rubella or polio," it said in a statement.
It said that with a "determined effort" the program will bring measles down to very low levels, reduce rubella rates and support efforts to keep the Philippines polio-free.
The government has allocated US$390,000 for Davao region alone, where Dumama said the program aims to reach at least 1.2 million children aged five years old and below.
"We knock on their doors and talk to the parents. We explain to them the benefits of the vaccine. We do not stop and we should not stop," said Dumama.
In January this year, the Philippines Department of Health declared an outbreak of potentially deadly measles in several districts in at least nine cities within Metro Manila.
Records from the National Epidemiology Center show that last year there were 1,724 measles cases, including 21 deaths.