Major shakeup looms over DOH for Dengvaxia mess
The looming reshuffle at the Department of Health (DOH) will affect not only those officials linked to ongoing investigations and controversies.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said even those who were not implicated in cases filed by different investigating bodies would be given new assignments.
“They will be reassigned based on my vision, based on the new administration’s vision of boosting Universal Health Care,” he said, adding that the reorganization would affect undersecretaries, directors and program managers.
Effective this week
Duque earlier said he would implement changes in the department’s senior leadership, effective this week.
While he did not say if the investigations were related to the controversy surrounding the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia or corruption allegations within the department, Duque said the changes would be made in light of probes concerning high-ranking officials of the DOH.
“I am reassigning certain undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and directors of the Department of Health in order to preserve the integrity of ongoing investigations and to prevent any potential undue influence on their findings,” Duque said.
To protect the agency and its officials from being dragged into another controversy, the DOH wants the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to oversee the procurement of the dengue kits to be given to families of Dengvaxia-vaccinated children.
“I talked to Secretary Benjamin Diokno and told him that it would be better if they will be the one who will do the procurement,” Duque told a press briefing at East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City.
Duque said allowing the DBM to administer the procurement of dengue kits would ensure transparency and spare the DOH and its officials from being dragged into questionable transactions just like what happened to the procurement of Dengvaxia.
“Secretary Diokno agreed, but we also have to be sure that we do not violate Commission on Audit rules and regulations,” he said.
Provision of dengue kits was among the requests of parents of children who were vaccinated with Dengvaxia during a dialogue with DOH officials.
The dengue kit includes a thermometer, insect repellant and multivitamins.
Duque said they would need at least P324 million to procure the dengue kits.
He said they were looking at sourcing the funds from the P1.161-billion refund for unused Dengvaxia vaccines.
Meanwhile, former Secretary Janette Garin on Monday said she welcomed the invitation of the Commission on Elections to a hearing over an election offense case linked to the Dengvaxia controversy.
In a statement, Garin said she would attend the hearing scheduled on March 15.
“It will allow me to show that the immunization program was not at all part of a political exercise as others are trying to make it appear,” she said.
“Had the program been a political one, then it would not have been school based, but community based,” Garin said.
“Had it been political in nature, why did Secretary (Paulyn) Ubial continue and expand it? I assure the public that there was no politics involved in the vaccination program,” she said.
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