Duterte urged to form independent body to probe Dengvaxia

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 09 2018 04:43 PM | Updated as of Sep 03 2018 10:43 PM

A student grimaces in pain as a health worker administers an anti-dengue vaccine at Parang Marikina Elementary School on April 4, 2016. The Department of Health in cooperation with the World Health Organization kicks off the series of immunization of 1 million children against dengue virus. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- A lawmaker has suggested that President Rodrigo Duterte form an independent commission to investigate the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine which has caused a nationwide health scare.

Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said such a body should address public health concerns related to the vaccine and identify personalities liable for the now-suspended mass immunization program.

Castelo's suggestion comes amid parallel inquiries being conducted by the House of Representatives, Senate, Department of Health, and the Public Attorney's Office into the vaccine.

"Our government needs to act and speak as one. At present, various government agencies are moving in different directions and issuing sometimes conflicting statements on the biggest public health crisis in recent history," he said.

The commission, according to Castelo, should be composed of 
health experts as well as individuals knowledgeable in executing public health programs.

The lawmaker also suggested that the commission make recommendations on how the government should deal with the problematic vaccination program in the long run.

More than 830,000 public school students were injected with the Dengvaxia drug as part of an anti-dengue immunization program.

The program was only suspended by the Department of Health (DOH) last year after vaccine maker Sanofi Pasteur disclosed that the drug may increase the risk of severe dengue in recipients of the vaccine that had not yet contracted the disease.