DOH immediately placed the government’s dengue vaccination program on hold last December following the announcement of French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur that the vaccine poses risks to those who were not infected by dengue virus before. AP/Bullit Marquez

‘No system in dengue vaccination program’ — Gordon
Gaea Katreena Cabico (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2018 - 2:03pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Richard Gordon on Monday slammed the supposed lack of systematic process in the dengue vaccination program during the resumption of the Senate inquiry into the controversial dengue vaccine.

Gordon, the blue ribbon committee chair, said that the Dengvaxia mess which caused public panic happened because the program did not follow orderly process.

“Obviously, there is no system... Is this the way the department has been run? Gone are the days of [former health secretary Juan] Flavier,” he said.

Gordon was angered by the finger-pointing of health experts on who made the December 28, 2015 decision introducing Dengvaxia to the government’s immunization program.

A special allotment order release of P3.5 billion was issued by the Department of Budget and Management to the DOH for the dengue vaccination program a day after.

Maria Joyce Ducusin, OIC-Director III of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, said the National Immunization Committee recommended the approval of the vaccine. It last convened in February 2016.

“The approval of the vaccine to be included in the immunization program is through the secretary of health,” Ducusin said, noting that the NIC recommends to the DOH chief on which vaccine to use.

Ducusin said the NIC made the decision based on the justification issued by the National Dengue Prevention Program.

She noted that it was OIC-Director IV of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau Mario Baquilod who approved the inclusion of Dengvaxia into the National Dengue Prevention Program.

Baquilod admitted that it was him who recommended the program because of the increasing cases of dengue in the country. He denied that former health secretary Janette Garin told him to make the recommendation.

He, however, tagged Dr. Rosalind Vianzon, the dengue program manager at the time of the purchase, who advised him to recommend the use of dengue vaccine.  

Baquilod said this led to his approval of a justification paper submitted to Ducusin for the exemption of Dengvaxia from the assessment of Formulary Executive Council, a requirement for the purchase of vaccines.

The finger-pointing irked Gordon.

“Is this the way you run your office during the time? You get somebody like this guy. You say his name then he points to another guy,” he said.

More than 860,000 people have been vaccinated with Dengvaxia.

DOH immediately placed the government’s dengue vaccination program on hold last December following the announcement of French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur that the vaccine poses risks to those who were not infected by dengue virus before.

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