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Trust issue

By Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate

The effects of the Dengvaxia controversy is feared affect not only the 800,000 plus who received one or more doses of the anti-dengue vaccine but also the millions of children whose parents now refuse the government-sponsored vaccines, including deworming pills.

The Department of Health is now aggressively pursuing information interventions to assure the public that the vaccines included in the vaccination program of the government (like those for measles, diphtheria, and polio) are safe as millions of Filipino children received such vaccines for decades now.

The refusal of many parents to have their children vaccinated is a very serious concern for the government, particularly for the Department of Health, because without the protection that such vaccines provide, Filipino children face a higher risk of suffering from many diseases.

For the information interventions of the Department of Health to work, they should address the real essence of the parents’ fear.

Such fear is obviously on the safety of the vaccines and medicines that are provided through the health programs of the Department of Health. Will parents still refuse to have their children given vaccines for measles, diphtheria, polio and other diseases if they will be given by private doctors or in private hospitals?

One underlying fact about the fear of parents is the trust in the Department of Health.

The information interventions of the Department of Health should be designed with due recognition to the fact that the Dengvaxia controversy caused the erosion of the people’s trust in the government agency mandated to advance health causes for Filipinos.

The allegations of corruption being the root cause of the Dengvaxia controversy need to be addressed soon because without finding the truth about the same, Filipinos will continue to doubt the Department of Health.

The parents are afraid that vaccines that are fruits of the proverbial “poisonous tree” (i.e. corruption) are not literally and figuratively “clean” and will thus expose their children to risk of getting more sick instead of being healthier.

The concerned government agencies like the Department of Health and the Department of Justice should hasten investigations on the allegations of corruption in the purchase of the Dengvaxia vaccine. The Senate and the House of Representatives need to continue in putting pressure to the Executive Branch in finding the truth about this issue.

The media can also do a lot by not letting the issue be drowned by other controversies.

The most effective information intervention that the Department of Health should make is one that convinces the people that there’s no corruption whatsoever in its operations and programs. Such intervention will go a long way in advancing health causes for Filipinos, especially the Filipino children.