Senators seek for answers, solutions amid anti-dengue vaccine mess
As the Senate investigation into the P3.5 billion anti-dengue immunization program started on Monday, lawmakers appealed for answers and solutions in the midst of the vaccine fiasco that might have endangered the lives of more than 800,000 children.
Despite feeling strongly about the Dengvaxia controversy, Senator JV Ejercito, chair of Senate health and demography committee, assured the resource speakers present at the hearing that the committee does not aim to persecute them.
“Isa rin ang anak ko sa nabigyan ng vaccine. Ano ba ang dapat nating gawin?” Ejercito said in his opening speech at the Senate hearing on Monday.
“Our committee is not here to persecute. The lives and safety of our more than 800,00 children are of more importance than the P3.5 billion budget used for this program,” he added.
Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, called on the government to prevent the issue from becoming a “health crisis.”
“In December last year or exactly a year ago, together with Chairman Senator Gordon, we conducted the first hearing on the issue following the deaths of two children, who received the first dose of Dengvaxia in April 2016,” Binay said.
“Nakakalungkot. It is the duty of the government to assure the safety of its people,” she added. “Bilang isang ina na nagkaroon ng anak na nagkasakit ng dengue, alam ko ang hirap na pinagdadaanan ng mga pamilyang naapektuhan ng sakit na ito.”
Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, likewise called on each resource speakers to help them think of solutions on how to resolve the issue.
“Ang concern po ng gobyerno ay ang kapakanan at kaligtasan ng ating mga kababayan,” Gordon said.
“Gaano po ba kalawak ang damage ng Dengvaxia? Para malaman kung ano ang dapat gawin ng gobyerno,” he added.
The Senate blue ribbon committee, jointly with the committees on health and demography and finance, currently conducts a hearing into the anti-dengue immunization program which started in 2016 under former Health Secretary Janette Garin.
Current Health Secretary Francisco Duque, as well as former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, were also present at the hearing.
Duque said the vaccine was administered to around 830,000 children, both school-based and community-based, and to another 32,000 private patients. /kga
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