KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will work with the Philippines and Unicef to look for ways to ensure that Filipino migrants, particularly the undocumented ones, are vaccinated.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the move was in line with the government’s policy to ensure that both Malaysians and migrants were vaccinated.
“Before making vaccination mandatory, there are several actions that will be taken into account, such as the cost of purchasing the vaccines and making it a policy that migrants, especially the undocumented ones, get vaccinated.
“Therefore, we will work with Unicef to ease the process of purchasing subsidised vaccines for the migrants,” he said at the launch of the “Be A Heart Hero” conference here.
Present were Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye and Yayasan Jantung Malaysia president Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid.
On the condition of the 3-month-old boy in Tuaran, Sabah, who had contracted polio recently, he said the boy was in a stable condition.
He said the boy had yet to receive a full vaccination as required in the National Immunisation Programme.
“We want to aggressively give vaccinations to all, especially the immigrants in Sabah, and hope that about 90 to 95 per cent of the community are immunised,” he said, adding that 23 children from the same area had been vaccinated recently.
He said since 2008 Malaysia had stopped using Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) and had adopted the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) through injection, which was more effective.
“The issue here is the illegal immigrants who are not vaccinated, who will spread the disease especially to those who have weak immune systems.
“Since the OPV is still being used in the Philippines, we need to find a solution by engaging both Unicef and the government of the Philippines,” said Dr Noor Hisham.
It was reported that the polio virus which infected the boy was suspected to have been brought in from outside Malaysia.
The virus has made a comeback in Malaysia 27 years after its eradication.
The country’s last polio case was in 1992.
Malaysia and other Western Pacific region countries were declared polio-free in 2000.