Safe or unsafe? House probe on dengue vaccine puzzles lawmakers

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2016 06:19 PM

Dengue patients at the pediatric ward in San Lazaro Hospital in Manila receive treatment. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBN News

Some lawmakers appear confused by the ongoing House probe into the allegedly anomalous dengue vaccination program of the previous administration.

Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque said he does not understand what the hearing is trying to prove and noted that Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial is inconsistent with her answers.

"Di ko maintidihan kasi sinasabi ng resolution di daw proven safe ang dengue [vaccine], yet the DOH hindi naman nagbibigay ng posisyon kung di siya threat to health or siya ay safe. Atras abante lang siya (Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial) ng atras abante depending on sino nagtatanong,” he said.

(I cannot understand because the resolution says that the dengue vaccine is not proven safe yet the DOH does not give its position on whether it is a threat to life or unsafe. She (Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial) keeps on changing her answers depending on who is asking.)

PBA party-list Rep. Mark Aeron Sambar said the hearing was “a little bit technical” and should not focus on medical terms but on whether the decision to use the vaccine was right.

" I know it’s a little bit technical because marami na silang pinag-uusapan na medical terms. That’s not the focus. Dapat filler na lang po yung medical terms. What has to be looked into here is whether or not…the choice to use [dengue vaccine] was right or not and whether it was manipulated,” he said.

(It’s because they are talking about many medical terms. That should only be a filler.)

Sambar, however, doesn’t see anything wrong proven so far.

“I don't think it was manipulated. I think there are just certain coincidences that people are jumping to conclusions. Because for a vaccine to be able to be marketed to the public, it takes a very long, long time,” he said.

Roque added: "Walang na prove eh. Kasi kung may corruption dapat siya mismo tumigil ng programa pag may corruption diyan tapos di siya (Ubial) tumigil dapat siya rin makasuhan."

(Nothing has been proven yet because if there is corruption she herself should stop the program and yet she did not stop. She should be charged as well.)

The DOH has launched the School Based Immunization Program in April 2016 and administered the first dose of the vaccine to Grade 4 students or school children aged 9 years old and above in regions of the country, with the highest number of dengue cases specifically those from the National Capital Region (NCR), Southern Luzon and Central Luzon.
 
Earlier this year, the DOH’s vaccination program received flak from health advocates who decried it as "rushed," and the vaccine potentially harmful, launching a House probe on its implementation.

--with reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News