Ubial on anti-dengue vaccine drive: I wanted to stop it, but was warned
Former Health Secretary Paulyn Rosell-Ubial said some lawmakers has warned that she could go to jail if she would stop the implementation of the P3.5 billion anti-dengue vaccination program during her term.
“It is very difficult for me to implement this, I want to stop that, but people in Congress said I will go to jail if we stop it because there’s already a contract,” Ubial said during the joint hearing of the Senate blue ribbon, health, and finance committees on Monday.
“I had no choice but to implement it at the time, but I’m glad (I) flip-flopped on the issue, and delayed the implementation of the program,” she added.
The former health chief said she had been objecting to the project since March 2016, when she was just assistant secretary at the Department of Health (DOH).
“If you mix politics and health, it’s really a disaster,” she said.
“I love the DOH but what I will say may seem that I will destroy it but I will say it anyway,” she added.
Ubial cited four reasons behind her stance: 1) The pilot study of the new vaccine involved only 30 to 40 thousand subjects, why would you risk to give it to almost 1 million children?; 2) Vaccines should not be implemented during election year because it could be taken as a hidden agenda; 3) There should be introduction to the private sector first before it is given to government health program, because in the private sector there is 1-on-1 intervention and monitoring is easier; and 4) Social preparation is also needed for the roll out of this vaccine
The former health secretary also said that it should take one to two years of preparation before the government could fully implement the massive vaccination.
Earlier, Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the blue ribbon committee, said he sees “conspiracy” in the government’s procurement of the vaccine from French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur.
The senator also alleged that the regions where the Dengvaxia was administered were some of the areas with high number of voters.
Gordon said the vaccine was rolled out in Region III, National Capital Region, and Region IV-A. /kga
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