By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Risa Hontiveros urged the government to establish a database that would help properly identify and monitor over 700,000 children who were administered the anti-dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, from French manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur.
“Our primary concern right now should be the health and welfare of all those children exposed to unnecessary risk as a result of the immunization program,” said Hontiveros, chair of the Senate committee on Women and Children.
“We need a database to identify the 70,000 affected children and know where they are exactly located in order for the government to keep track of their health and prepare the needed resources and logistics that will allow for quick and appropriate medical responses, if needed,” she said.
‘A race against time’
The senator also asserted that Sanofi bears the legal and ethical responsibility to shoulder the health needs of the affected children and fully compensate their families.
“This is our most urgent task. Laxity is not an option. We are racing against time. We must protect and ensure the good health of our children,” Hontiveros said.
The senator also said the Department of Health (DOH) owes the public an explanation on how the controversial vaccine was acquired in the first place and why it failed to heed the apprehension and warnings of medical experts on its potential dangers.
“Sanofi must be held responsible and the culpable health officials accountable. While vaccination and immunization are protective and essential elements of preventive health care, implementing an immunization program that could do more harm than good to our children is the height of negligence that could border on the criminal,” Hontiveros stressed.
The DOH has launched an investigation into the P3.9-billion deal, which was sealed during the term of then President Benigno Aquino III.
Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, chair of the Senate Committee on Health said he is keen on starting an investigation into the alleged anomalous deal on January next year.