Nograles: P1.16B for Dengvaxia recipients only
The House of Representatives is prepared to fight for its version of the P1.161-billion supplemental budget intended for recipients of the Dengvaxia vaccine.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, chair of the House committee on appropriations, wondered why the senators, in their version of the bill, wanted the fund to benefit all dengue victims and be available only until the end of 2018.
“[Senators] changed the formula that we placed in the House version. They set that aside and just cancelled everything and then put ‘assistance to dengue,’” Nograles said at the Meet Inquirer forum on Thursday.
He pointed out that since the budget would come from the refund for the unused Dengvaxia vials by French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur, proceeds should go solely to the vaccinees.
Sanofi refunded the government P1.4 billion of the P3.5 billion paid by the Aquino administration for the purchase of Dengvaxia vaccines.
The House passed the supplemental budget, coauthored by Nograles, last May after President Duterte certified the bill as urgent. The Senate approved its own version last week.
The bicameral conference committee will meet on Oct. 3 to reconcile the two versions. Nograles said he was under “strict orders” from the House leadership “to fight for [our] version.”
“We will really have a confrontation here. But I have the [Department of Health, DOH] and the parents of the vaccinees on my side,” he said.
Nograles said that if the Senate version was to prevail, then the vaccinees could not get government assistance for stomachaches, headaches or nosebleeds, complications that could be related to the use of the vaccines.
According to Nograles, the Senate version, which calls for the inclusion of all dengue patients in the coverage of the fund, will be redundant because both the DOH and PhilHealth have separate medical assistance for dengue victims.
“I hope they (senators) see the wisdom of what we did in the House. This refund came from Sanofi. [T]he refund should cater to the needs of the Dengvaxia victims. If it does not cater to the needs of Dengaxia victims, then that is another injustice that we are giving these almost 900,000 vaccinees. And I cannot live with that,” he said.
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