2023 Stakeholders Forum


Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, November 13, 2023 - The Raising Awareness on Influenza to Support Elderlies (RAISE) Coalition celebrated its one-year anniversary and observed World Pneumonia Day with a stakeholders’ forum at the Marco Polo Hotel on November 13, 2023. The various government agencies, medical organizations, and civil societies present committed to addressing the country's high mortality rates for flu-related illnesses. They will work together to ensure the life-saving vaccines effectively reach elderly Filipinos every year.

The coalition is calling to institutionalize and establish May as the National Influenza Vaccination month to maximize the value of the program, providing protection before the peak of our flu seasonality and rainy season. “We have to intensify the collaboration across sectors to implement better policy and program implementation of flu vaccination in the country,” Dr. Rontgene Solante, RAISE Convenor; Board Member-PFV noted. “Current policies and programs only protect the indigent elderly population. Our national flu vaccination program falls short of the World Health Organization’s VCR target of 75% at just 8%,” he added.

Latest data from the Department of Health (DOH) shows that the Philippines had a 46% increase in influenza-like illnesses from the same period of last year. The National Institute of Health also noted that only 35.6% of Filipinos aged 60 and above received pneumococcal vaccines this past year.

Dr. Lulu Bravo, PFV Executive Director, underscored the urgency of timely vaccination for seniors, saying, “For two decades, napakabagal ang vaccination natin para sa matatanda. Pero sila ang pinaka vulnerable na tinatamaan ng sakit sa lungs, sa heart, sa kidneys. Nagiging most vulnerable tayo pag tumatanda.”

Dr. Rose Capeding, RAISE co-convenor and PFV President also highlighted the coalition’s goals moving forward. “Our goal should not just be childhood vaccination, but life-course vaccination. At every stage of life, there should be vaccinations to protect us.” She also notes the need for legislation to expand free flu vaccination for all seniors. “We already have support from the senate and the congress, so we are hopeful that there will be free vaccination to all senior citizens,” she adds. This year, HB 2097 was passed by the special committee to expand the current Senior Citizens Act.

Echoing this sentiment on the importance of giving free flu vaccines for seniors, Dr. Shelley de la Vega from the National Institute of Aging states, “There is really an unequal distribution on who is receiving these vaccines. As much as possible, the vaccines need to be free. We don’t need a new law, but we are looking at a better implementation of RA9994 for our senior citizens.”

“Our appeal to our seniors, do not forget your yearly influenza vaccine schedule and please visit our health centers to ask for the free flu vaccines. To our partners, we will go to every place where RAISE can make an impact,” expressed Usec. Enrique Tayag of the Department of Health, showing his support towards the Coalition.

In its first year, the RAISE coalition has successfully supported various LGU health initiatives and was able to vaccinate a total of 1,433 senior citizens against influenza through a partnership with RAISE. 

With the remarkable community outreach achieved this year, the RAISE Coalition's vision extends further. In the coming year, the coalition will work closely with more Local Government Units (LGUs) and legislative champions to advocate for the revision of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act, aiming to provide free flu vaccinations for all senior citizens in the country.