By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Former Health Secretary and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin called on the Department of Health (DOH) Wednesday to pursue the dengue vaccination program to prevent future outbreaks and save lives.
She asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque and Undersecretary Eric Domingo “put aside biases from the anti-vaxxers” to address the rising cases of mosquito-borne disease that prodded the DOH to declare a national dengue epidemic on Tuesday.
“We are calling on Secretary Duque and Usec. Domingo to put aside biases from the anti-vaxxers and let us help save lives instead. People are dying, the virus is spreading. Implementation doesn’t have to be mass immunization,” she said in a statement.
“If they don’t want to give it to the poor, they can at least make it available to private doctors and individuals who are willing to shoulder the cost. That way it lessens the number of vulnerable dengue victims” she added.
The Senior Deputy Minority Leader noted that dengue vaccine is on the internationally recognized Essential Medicines List (EML) of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Being on the EML means all governments are obliged to make it available to their people at all times, she explained.
Garin stressed that while, dengue vaccine may not be the solution to the ongoing dengue outbreak in the country, it can prevent future outbreaks.
“I agree with Usec Domingo, the dengue vaccine is not a response to the ongoing epidemic but I believe it is wrong to say that it will have no effect. This statement is misleading. The use of the vaccine is as a preventive measure so there will be no outbreak. Dengue vaccine can’t address the current outbreak but can prevent future outbreaks,” she said.
“We and the rest of the medical community including the World Health Organization (WHO) have foreseen this that is why preventive measures were implemented” she added.
Garin earlier asked Duque to explain the reason behind the revocation of Dengvaxia’s Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) in December 2017.
“Vaccine safety was not the issue on dengue vaccine’s revocation of license. May we ask Secretary Duque to shed light on the reason for revocation. Apparently, it stemmed from an allegation that a document submitted cannot be located,” she said, referring to Sanofi’s post-marketing surveillance report.
“Let us give Filipinos the chance to harvest the good effects of the vaccine,” she added.
According to the DOH, at least 622 people had been killed by the mosquito-borne disease from January to July 20 this year.
It noted 146,062 cases had been recorded from January to July 20 this year, or 98 percent higher than the number of cases recorded in the same period in 2018.