By: Mario B. Casayuran with a report from Ina Hernando Malipot
The Senate Health Committee led by Sen. JV Ejercito will conduct a public hearing next month on the P3.5-billion dengue immunization program of the Department of Health.
The DoH has suspended the program after French firm Sanofi Pasteur, the manufacturer of Dengvaxia, a landmark vaccine for the potentially deadly dengue virus, warned it could worsen the disease in some cases.
Ejercito said the probe will enable experts of the World Health Organization and the DoH to make their reports and recommendations on the program.
He said he would discuss the possibility of conducting a joint hearing with the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Sen. Richard J. Gordon on the program.
Gordon had conducted a public hearing on the deal between the DoH and Sanofi focusing on the possibility that the purchase could be considered a midnight deal of the past Aquino administration.
Thus, the issues of health and corruption could be investigated jointly by the two committees, Ejercito said.
Ejercito said former DoH Secretary Janet L. Garin, who initiated the vaccination program, would be asked to clarify policy issues on the vaccine purchase.
He advised Filipinos not to panic since it is premature to make conclusions on the side effects of the vaccine.
The Department of Education has assured that it will closely monitor the conditions of more than 700,000 learners who have been administered with the vaccine with the DoH.
“As the health and safety of our learners are of principal importance, DepEd, in close coordination with the Department of Health, will monitor the condition of learners who have been administered with the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia,” DepEd said.
As a stakeholder, DepEd ensured that it “will likewise be actively participating in the review and consultations of DoH on the dengue vaccination program.”