MANILA- Former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial on Friday defended herself over a complaint for criminal negligence filed against her at the Department of Justice by her predecessor, Janette Garin.
Garin filed a complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide against Ubial in September in connection with the alleged deaths due to the mass vaccination of Dengvaxia.
Garin, herself facing 29 complaints for the same case filed by the Public Attorney’s Office, had accused Ubial of being responsible for the alleged Dengvaxia-related deaths when Ubial supposedly expanded the administration of Dengvaxia vaccines without basis.
“Instead of the limited School Based Program that I initially implemented, Sec. Ubial expanded the Dengue Immunization Program to Community-Based. Sec. Ubial likewise expanded the coverage of the immunization program to persons between nine (9) to sixty (60) years old, from the original limited scope of only Grade 4 pupils (school year 2015-2016) aged 9 years old and older enrolled in public schools in Regions III, IV-A, and NCR,” Garin said.
She also accused Ubial of relaxing the protocols on securing consent by authorizing immunization on an “implied consent” basis and faulted her for the lack of screening and monitoring mechanisms, which she said was contrary to global standards.
Garin alleged that deaths were reported soon after the implementation of Ubial’s community-based program.
“[I]t is clear that Sec. Ubial’s reckless implementation of the Community-Based Dengue Immunization Program was the only possible cause of the reported deaths,” she said.
In her counter-affidavit filed through her lawyer on Friday, Ubial refuted allegations of negligence which allegedly led to reported deaths.
“[I]t is clear that the Complaint-Affidavit fails to establish the elements of the crime charged. It fails to establish that deaths occurred and that such, assuming arguendo they did take place, were caused by the implementation of the Community-Based Dengue Immunization Program,” she said.
“Furthermore, the records show that I had sufficient basis to expand the dengue immunization program, and that my acts do not constitute reckless imprudence,” she added.
Ubial said it was the Dengue Vaccine Advisory Group who recommended and the Department of Health (DOH) Core Executive Committee who resolved to expand the dengue immunization program, based on consultation with experts, research and data taken from the school-based immunization program.
From Regions III, IV-A and NCR, the DOH decided to expand the administration of Dengvaxia to Region VII in late 2016 and the shift to community-based program in 2017.
She also rejected Garin’s claim that the World Health Organization (WHO) only recommended school-based immunization program.
She insisted, she ordered strict compliance with guidelines for implementation, such as getting informed consent of parents.
And while pre-vaccination screening tests were not conducted during her term, she said this was based on the advice of the WHO.
Ubial had managed to exempt herself from the complaints PAO filed against Garin, current Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, officials of Dengvaxia-maker Sanofi Pasteur and distributor Zuellig Pharma, among others, by expressing intent to serve as state witness for the complaints.
Four batches of complaints have so far been filed, with the first batch up for resolution.
Ubial is in Vietnam to speak at a conference. She earlier subscribed to her counter-affidavit before a prosecutor on Wednesday.