By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Iloilo Rep. Janette Loreto-Garin asked on Monday Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to “discipline” his people and “hold them accountable” for supposedly spreading disinformation.
The former Health Secretary said Duque should put order in his house after Centers for Health Development (CHD) 4A Director Eduardo Janairo purportedly declared in a television news segment that the Philippines does not use meningococcal vaccine because it is not yet proven to be effective, and is still under study.
“I call on Secretary Duque to discipline his people and hold them accountable for spreading disinformation. Declarations like that of Dr. Janairo’s can be misconstrued as a policy statement whether he was acting as a representative of DOH or not. Reckless utterances like this is detrimental to public health,” Garin said in statement.
The senior deputy minority leader, who has training in Advanced Vaccinology, noted that the United States (USA) has already licensed two types of meningococcal vaccines – Meningococcal conjugate vaccines (MenACWY); and Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines (MenB) which have helped teens and young adults prevent its most common causes.
She said even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States raised concern that the meningococcal disease could be a very serious illness where death can occur in as little as few hours. CDC is the health protection agency that protects America from health and safety threats for both foreign and domestic, Garin noted.
“I am deeply concerned that these isolated cases might erupt into a widespread panic due to complete disregard to the truth: that we have a vaccine for meningococcemia proven to combat the disease,” the opposition House leader said.
This was the third time Garin called the attention of the DOH over Janairo’s “misplaced programs”, which include the “useless” dengue kits (loot bag with goodies) during dengue outbreak and the hiring of an event organizer posing as an expert panel in dengue only to find out that Vireoload Works was in the main business of providing cellphone load.
Garin, a medical doctor, advised the public, especially those who have have symptoms of meningococcal disease to immediately go to the doctor, especially “if there is a persistent drowsiness, irritability, fever, children not feeding normally or if symptoms have come on or just worsened very quickly.”
“The incidence, prevalence, morbidity, and mortality of many communicable diseases like meningococcemia will not rise if we subscribe to an adage which holds true even today – that an ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure,” she said.
Garin cited that in May 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) formed a Working Group (WG) to prepare a Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) review of new evidence and advice to WHO on the use of meningococcal vaccines to mitigate the public health impact of the meningococcal disease.
“The reason why the vaccine is not given routinely in the Philippine public health program is that the burden based on history is not that huge. But despite this, private patients and some doctors use this,” she said.