DOH to tap foreign experts for Dengvaxia probe

Kori Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2018 04:16 PM

Health advocates protest in front of the Department of Health on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Critics raised concern over the Dengvaxia vaccine, after its manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, warned of more severe symptoms if it is given to those who have not had the disease. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- The Department of Health (DOH) has sought the help of foreign experts in investigating deaths allegedly linked to the now-suspended mass dengue immunization program of the government.

Health Undersecretary Enrique Domingo on Tuesday said the World Health Organization (WHO) has already referred several health experts to help the Philippines.

Around 5 to 7 experts covering fields such as dengue, infectious diseases, pathology, and epidemiology are expected to arrive in March. Their visits will be financed by the WHO.

Domingo said the experts will come from countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

"We are just finalizing the rates of the consultants and the terms of reference para mapirmahan (for signature)," he said in an interview.

The foreign health experts will help local health officials set up a system for the analysis and evaluation of Dengvaxia-related cases, Domingo said.

"Sila ang magche-check kung papaano natin ginagawa and then capacity building. Hindi sila pwedeng magtagal. These are professors and specialists from other countries. They will be brought in just to boost the capacity," he said.

(They will check how we will conduct the tests and they will help in the capacity-building. They cannot stay here for long.)

The government halted its dengue immunization program after French drug maker Sanofi Pasteur bared in November that its Dengvaxia vaccine may cause more severe dengue symptoms if given to those who have not yet contracted the mosquito-borne disease. 

A separate investigation into deaths allegedly linked to the Dengvaxia vaccine has also been launched by the Public Attorney's Office.