In a press conference on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President would invite foreign pathologists in the country to clarify conflicting findings from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) in relation to the dengue immunization program.
“We welcome the policy statement of the President to invite foreign experts from neighboring ASEAN countries. This is a directive that must be respected and fully complied with,” said Secretary Francisco T. Duque III.
Mechanisms will be set up to ensure full independence of the members of the expert panel and their outputs shall be directly submitted to the Department of Justice.
Secretary Duque also took the opportunity to thank the President in providing assistance to the parents and families of patients who died following vaccination with Dengvaxia.
During the Cabinet Meeting on Monday, Secretary Duque presented the DOH’s ongoing efforts in addressing concerns involving recipients of the dengue vaccine.
Secretary Duque has requested both Houses of Congress and the Department of Budget and Management to allocate to the DOH the P1.16 billion refunded by Sanofi for the establishment of the Dengvaxia Assistance Program.
“We have sent letters to lawmakers to allocate to the Department the P1.16 billion refunded by Sanofi. The DOH will use the fund to establish the Dengvaxia Assistance Program,” Secretary Duque said.
Senate Bill No. 1769 and House Bill No. 7449 have been filed for this purpose.
“Currently, bills have been filed at both houses of Congress for the allocation of the refund amount. I thank the President for certifying these bills as urgent,” Secretary Duque added.
Secretary Duque said the DOH continues to address the health concerns of the children vaccinated with Dengvaxia through heightened surveillance, provision of medical assistance, school-based and community monitoring and visits to hospitals to ensure that Dengue fast lanes are institutionalized.
“Our central office and regional offices covered by the Immunization Program immediately set up a 24/7 hotline or Public Assistance Dengue Desk. We also directed our government hospitals to establish Dengue/Dengvaxia Fast Lanes to give priority to those Dengvaxia vaccinees needing medical attention,” Secretary Duque said.
The DOH entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Philippine Hospital Association (PHA), Philippine Medical Association (PMA), Private Hospital Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPI) and the Association of Health Administrators (AHA) for the establishment of Dengue fast lanes in private hospitals.
The MOA also provides that all medical expenses incurred by Dengvaxia vaccinees will be shouldered by PhilHealth and the DOH through the Medical Assistance for Indigents Program (MAIP).
The Department also partnered with the Philippine Red Cross for provision of technical support and expertise in the delivery of services to Dengvaxia vaccinees and the conduct of an intensified awareness campaign on dengue in communities.