After polio outbreak, govt to supply Sabah migrants with vaccines

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (second from right) says the migrants in Sabah will be given 10 types of vaccines as per the National Immunisation Programme. Second from left is Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.

PETALING JAYA: The government is looking at providing vaccines for migrants in Sabah to prevent another outbreak of infectious diseases such as the polio outbreak in Tuaran this week.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) confirmed Malaysia’s first case of polio in 27 years on Tuesday.

They said the polio virus contracted by the three-month-old Malaysian boy is the same strain that has been spreading in the southern Philippines since September.

The health ministry today said it will work with the Philippine government and Unicef to source a supply of vaccines.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the community will be given 10 types of vaccines as per the National Immunisation Programme.

“The Philippines can get cheaper prices so we might source the vaccines from them,” he said after the opening of the “Be a Heart Hero 2019” conference by Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye at the National Heart Foundation today.

He voiced concern about the influx of undocumented migrants to East Malaysia, saying that Sabah and Sarawak might have 20% to 30% of undocumented migrants who enter and leave Malaysia without any checks.

Noor Hisham said the Philippines was still using oral polio vaccines (OPV), which Malaysia previously administered until 2008 before switching to inactivated polio vaccines (IPV).

The WHO website states that OPV – which is the main preventive measure against polio – is taken orally as drops and does not require a trained health worker. IPV is given through an injection by a trained health worker.

In countries still using OPV, IPV does not replace the OPV vaccine but is used with OPV to strengthen a child’s immune system and protect them from polio.