DOH urged to account for P7.43-B budget
As the measles death toll reached 136 since Jan. 1, the Anakalusugan party-list group challenged the Department of Health (DOH) to account for how it spent its P7.43-billion budget for its immunization program in 2018.
“The DOH spent all of its budget last year for immunization,” said Anakalusugan nominee Mike Defensor in a statement.
“But by its own admission, its immunization rate in 2018 was only 39 percent. This means more than 2 million children did not get measles vaccination,” he said.
Defensor said the DOH had an advertising budget of P634 million last year.
“They cannot keep on invoking the vaccination scare brought about by the Dengvaxia mess,” he said.
“They should have used the budget to mount a massive information campaign to encourage parents to have their kids vaccinated. It’s clear there was something amiss,” he added.
Another Anakalusugan nominee, Darlo Ginete, said it was impossible for the health department to have missed the trend of an increase in the number of measles cases.
“In 2018, DOH reported a total number of 18,407 measles cases,” Ginete said.
“Compared to only 2,428 cases in 2017, last year’s figure represents a nearly 800-percent increase in measles cases,” he said.
“How could they have not seen that trend?” Ginete added.
“Why are they scrambling only now to raise awareness when the numbers were glaringly clear as early as 2018?” he said.
Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona of Caceres has called on parents to submit their children to vaccination.
In a pastoral letter read in Caceres’ 92 parishes last Sunday, Tirona said the only way to address the problem is to have children vaccinated.
“Let not the unfounded fear of the vaccine affect the lives of our children,” Tirona said. —WITH A REPORT FROM TINA G. SANTOS
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