Duque rejects vaccines in fight vs dengue
TACLOBAN CITY –– Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is not looking at vaccines to fight dengue in the country.
Instead, he turned to the local officials to tap their resources since the virus was affecting their constituents.
Duque was in Tacloban on Thursday to monitor the dengue situation in Eastern Visayas. He visited several public hospitals like the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, based in this city, which has about 166 dengue fever cases – 146 of them children.
In a news conference on Thursday, Duque turned down calls by some sectors to use the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine to curb the increasing number of dengue cases in the country.
He pointed out that the World Health Organization does not recommend the use of Dengvaxia for outbreak response and mass immunization in the absence of a reliable test on its effectivity.
Dengvaxia vaccine, he added, was also more of prevention rather than a cure.
“The impact what we need to achieve here is really to bring down the number of dengue fever cases reaching epidemic proportion,” he said.
He pointed out the high cases of Dengvaxia in areas where Dengvaxia was piloted like Region IV-A and the National Capital Region.
“So it’s not enough to make a dent to bring down dengue fever cases,” Duque said.
“The protection of Dengvaxia, although low at 60 percent on the average, is not that reassuring because it’s not a high reassuring rate. Magpaturok ka man, almost 40 ang may dengue,” he added.
Duque also cited the legal implications in the wake of the cases filed by Department of Health against past and present DOH officials as well as officials of Sanofi Pasteur, manufacturer of the vaccine, and its distributor, Zuellig Pharma Corp.
The DOH canceled the Dengvaxia vaccination program and permanently banned it in the country last February after the Food and Drug Administration discovered that Sanofi disregarded government rules and regulations.
Sanofi has also admitted in 2017 that the Dengvaxia may pose a risk to people who have not been infected with dengue virus.
Duque said a Japan-based pharmaceutical company, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, was also developing a vaccine against various strains of dengue.
But he added this could not be used yet since it was still under clinical studies.
10th among regions
Based on the record of the DOH-Eastern Visayas, Region 8 has about 10,569 dengue fever cases with 36 deaths as of August 5.
Eastern Visayas ranked 10th among the country’s regions with a high number of dengue fever cases.
Duque said the declaration of a national dengue epidemic would allow all local governments to access their respective quick response funds or calamity funds to combat the disease.
“(The national declaration is) to maximize and mobilize resources for the local chief executives to use their quick response funds as the national fund is not enough,” he said during a press conference.
The DOH, for this year, has about P500 million in quick response fund. Of the amount, more than P47 million had been used to address the dengue problem.
In Eastern Visayas, the provincial governments of Leyte, Samar, and Eastern Samar and the cities of Ormoc and Tacloban have declared a state of calamity to allow them access to calamity or quick response funds.
Duque said he expected local officials to make use of their funds to address the problem.
Duque said President Duterte gave him a “wide latitude” to come up with measures to address the problem.
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