House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Karlo “Ang Probinsyano” Nograles on Sunday urged the Senate to act on approving its version of the proposed 1.16 billion-peso Supplemental Budget meant to provide medical aid for victims of the controversial anti-dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia.
This as the third regular session of the 17th Congress is set to begin today in a joint session at the House of Representatives, where President Rodrigo Duterte is set to deliver his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) later in the day.
“Every day that passes by is crucial for the families whose children were administered with the Dengvaxia vaccine, and our fellow lawmakers in the Senate know this,” said the lawmaker from Davao.
“At this point there is already a tragic pattern of deaths among children who were part of the inoculation program, and our top priority should be to break this pattern by ensuring that we are able to monitor and prevent deaths that may be tied to the use of the Dengvaxia vaccine; passing this supplemental budget is the best way to achieve this.”
“There is already a tragic pattern of deaths among children who were part of the inoculation (Dengvaxia) program.”
Nograles earlier filed HB No. 7449, which sought to turn French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur’s 1.161-billion peso partial refund to the Philippine government into a standby medical fund for the vaccines.
“Our top priority should be to break this pattern by ensuring that we are able to monitor and prevent deaths that may be tied to the use of the Dengvaxia vaccine.”
The House unanimously approved the bill on third and final reading just before the sine die adjournment of the second regular session.
Sanofi is the producer of Dengavaxia, which in April 2016 was used in a massive 3.5 billion-peso inoculation campaign by the previous administration. Over 830,000 schoolchildren were administered the vaccine.
The program was immediately halted by President Rodrigo Duterte when the pharmaceutical giant admitted in November 2017 that Dengvaxia could worsen symptoms for vaccinated children who contract dengue for the first time, as per the results of their own follow-up study.
Nograles noted that many of his fellow probinsyanos were among those who received the problematic vaccine. As per the Department of Health (DOH), the immunization program went full throttle in public elementary schools in Central Luzon and the Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon (Calabarzon) area.
“In Mindanao, Dengvaxia was actually available and was being administered in private hospitals before the government’s mass vaccination program started,” revealed Nograles.
“We learned that 400 individuals were given dosages there and we are closely monitoring their health. The same should apply for all the school children who were given the vaccine,” Nograles added.
“I see Senate President Tito Sotto as a man of action, and I’m confident he and the rest of the Senate will act in a timely manner for the sake of all these Filipino children. Lahat ng buhay ay mahalaga,” stressed the Mindanao-born solon.
While waiting for the supplemental budget to be enacted, Nograles earlier advised the DOH headed by Secretary Francisco Duque III to immediately start profiling Dengvaxia victims using the agency’s existing funds.
Nograles said the database from the profiling efforts would make it easier for the DOH and other government agencies to provide assistance to the victims once the additional funds are available.
Sanofi’s partial refund covered the unused Dengvaxia vials that were returned by the Health department. Nograles has supported calls for a full refund.
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