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Immunization Means a Healthy Future for Philippine Children
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Immunization Means a Healthy Future for Philippine Children
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Every day in the Philippines, poor families search through garbage dumps looking for something worthwhile to resell. This is a dangerous way of life that presents many health risks. The World Health Organization, WHO, is visiting families and providing them with health kits and necessary vaccines to ward off illnesses.
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Produced by UN in Action.

Find out more about WHO's measures to provide immunizations in the Philippines.

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
The Payatas garbage dump in Manila in the Philippines has always been a place for scavengers, a magnet for the poor searching for anything to sell to recyclers. But it is also, remarkably, a place that tens of thousands call home. Families, desperate to make a living, settle here in houses made of tin, cardboard, and anything else found in the mounds of garbage just feet away. Marita Navila lives here with her ten children.
MARITA NAVILA
We've been here for 12 years scavenging. When we came here the dumpsite was small. Now it's like a mountain.
VOICEOVER
But with this livelihood comes tremendous risk. It's a place rife with infection and disease and virtually no access to healthcare or vaccinations. Dr. Gabagat knows this all too well; he's the only doctor for the thirty thousand families here.
DR. GABAGAT
We deal with acute respiratory tract infection, parasitism, and skin diseases.
VOICEOVER
He also deals with a disease most developed nations consider a rite of passage -- measles. But in the Philippines, it can be deadly.
DR. SOBEL
This is a preventable disease.
VOICEOVER
Dr. Sobel is an immunologist with the World Health Organization, WHO.
DR. SOBEL
Of children who get the measles, about half will get complications from it. They will get pneumonia, they will get diarrhea. They will be malnourished for months. And of them, one in ten will die from this disease.
VOICEOVER
And Payatas is just one of 42,000 poor areas spread out over the city of Manila alone. Unsanitary conditions and little access to healthcare put millions of children at risk throughout the country. The only way to get to these people is by going to them, directly. And that's exactly what these women are about to do. Teams of health care workers hit the streets, knocking on doors. In tow, fully stocked refrigerated medical kits containing measles vaccines and vitamin supplements. Once done, workers mark the house and record the names of the children they've treated. Experts estimate that by going door-to-door they've reached an additional three million children and prevented tens of thousands from dying. One measure of their success: this local hospital's measles ward used to teem with patients just last year. Today, it's empty. What's more, the program's initial success led WHO to expand its efforts to treat other deadly diseases.
VOICEOVER
Tuberculosis clinics are now open. Patients, once ostracized and stigmatized, are now able to receive treatment in an open atmosphere. But no matter the efforts, experts agree that until the poor around the globe have a less hazardous way to earn a living, tens of millions will continue to die needlessly from preventable disease. Richard Sydenham prepared this report for the United Nations.