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Where’s P7.4B budget for vaccinations? Group asks DOH

/ 02:09 PM February 21, 2019
Measles in C. Luzon: 35 dead, 1,395 sick

A baby receives a shot of vaccine. INQUIRER FILE / JAM STA. ROSA

MANILA, Philippines — A party-list group on Thursday challenged the Department of Health (DOH) to account for how they spent the P7.43-billion budget for its immunization program in 2018 in light of the measles outbreak declared in some parts of the country.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Anakalusugan party-list criticized the agency for its failure to deliver the required vaccinations despite the budget for the program.

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“The DOH spent all of its budget last year for immunization. But by its own admission, its immunization rate in 2018 was only at 39 percent. This means more than 2 million children did not get measles vaccination,” Mike Defensor, Anakalusugan party-list nominee, said.

He noted that the DOH had an allocated budget of P634 million in 2018 for advertising.

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“They cannot keep invoking the vaccination scare brought about by the Dengvaxia mess.They should have used the budget to mount a massive information campaign to encourage parents to have their kids vaccinated. Klarong-klaro na may pagkukulang ang DOH,” Defensor said.

Meanwhile, another party-list nominee, Darlo Ginete, pointed out how the health department should have seen the tell-tale signs of a measles outbreak.

“In 2018, the DOH reported a total number of 18,407 measles cases. Compared to only 2,428 cases in 2017, last year’s figure represents a nearly 800 percent increase in measles cases,” Ginete said.

READ: Vaccination woes: Warning signs up since 2018 — group

“Ito’y imposibleng hindi nasubaybayan ng DOH sapagkat nung una pa mang buwan ng 2018, ay laganap na at marami na ang affected ng measles…Why are they scrambling only now to raise awareness on the importance of the vaccination program when the numbers were glaringly clear as early as 2018? Nagkukumahog kung kailan ang dami nang namatay,” he added.

The party-list noted that at least 136 deaths and over 8,000 affected by measles have already been recorded across the country since January 1 of this year.

Anakalusugan clarified that its criticism was not directed to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III adding that the vaccination problem is an issue of collective responsibility.

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“Collective responsibility yung problema natin. Lahat naman dapat..naging responsibilidad ng local government officials, naging responsibilidad ng community. Pero siyempre and primary implementor is the DOH as an organization. Kaya nga sinasabi namin kanina dito, this is nothing personal against any person, against Secretary Duque, ” Defensor said.

“But the DOH as an organization has not been able to deliver the required performance for vaccinations for our children, for the babies and for the Filipino families,” he added. /cbb

READ: DOH pushes for compulsory vaccine shots; Malacañang shoots it down

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TAGS: Anakalusugan, DoH, measles, Mike Defensor, news, Vaccination
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