By Betheena Unite
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III will appeal to the government to allow the Department of Health (DOH) to use a chunk of the P1-billion refund from Sanofi for the unused Dengvaxia vaccines to support the needs of the parents of the vaccinated children.
“Kami ay susulat sa kongreso at sa Office of the President para magkaroon kami ng awtoridad na gamitin ang bahagi ng naibalik na pondo para sa mga hindi nagamit na Dengvaxia para matustusan ang pangangailangan ng mga magulang ng mga nabakunahan,” Duque said during a press conference late Wednesday. (We will write to Congress and to the Office of the President to authorize us to use a portion of the refund to assist the families of those who were vaccinated with Dengvaxia.)
Duque said they plan to request about P600 million from the refund but said the exact figures will still be computed.
The health chief said the department will also distribute medical kits – which are still limited — to the parents of the vaccinees.
“Meron po tayong ibibigay na kits. Ngunit ang ating pakiusap sa kanila, ito ay limitado pa, hindi pa natin kayang ibigay sa lahat dahil dadaan pa ito sa proseso ng procurement and bidding at kailangan ng pondo,” Duque said. (We will provide them with medical kits but we will star with a very limited supply as we have to go through the process of procurement and bidding.)
The kits, according to Assistant Secretary Francia Laxamana, will contain insect repellant, fever medicines, thermometer, soap that complements the insect repellant, among others.
The same day, the health chief met with 10 parents of vaccinees to hear their concerns.
Some of the parents who met with the health officials, on the other hand, expressed that the assistance they have been receiving from the government “seem not enough.”
“Sa totoo lang po, hindi pa po masyado dahil hangga’t hindi namin nakikita ‘yung hinihingi naming assistance hindi po namin masasabi na [satisfied kami] gusto namin nandiyan na po. Kasi kung puro verbal lang, gusto namin yung proof na nandiyan na talaga — doon pa lang kami masa-satisfy,” Maricel Matias said.
Duque also revealed that his appeal to Sanofi Pasteur to refund the P3-billion full payment for the vaccines was rejected.
However, he wrote a letter anew to the giant firm invoking the civil code concerning the case.
If Sanofi would still refuse, Duque said, the department will consult the Office of the Solicitor General on the charges that may be filed.