Nalzaro: When prevention becomes a nightmare

FOLLOWING the brouhaha over the anti-dengue Dengvaxia vaccine that has become a nightmare for parents of those who have been vaccinated with it but haven’t been afflicted with the dengue virus, the Department of Health (DOH) wants an indemnity fund for children who maybe hospitalized after the vaccination.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said government is looking into the possibility of returning the P1.4 billion worth of unused Dengvaxia vaccines to the manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, and getting a refund. “From that amount, we will establish an indemnity fund to cover the cost of hospitalization and treatment of children who will get sick due to the dengue vaccine,” Duque said.

The government bought the first ever anti-dengue vaccine during the remaining months of the Aquino administration in 2016 amounting to P3.5 billion and immediately launched massive free immunization program with around 700,000 children aged 9 to 14 years old availing of it nationwide.

In the early months of the Duterte administration, the DOH continued the vaccination but ordered it suspended following the admission by Sanofi that children who have not been ill with dengue would have a severe case once afflicted with it.

In Talisay City, health officials said they will help defray the hospital expenses of the 10-year-old boy now confined in a private hospital in the City of Naga for dengue. The patient was one of the elementary pupils vaccinated with Dengvaxia last August. The boy’s father was forced to borrow money from his employer to be able to confine the child in a private hospital upon learning from media reports how delicate his condition would be because of the vaccination.

I can feel the anxiety, fear and apprehensions of the parents following this controversy. They will be suffering sleepless nights thinking about the effect of the vaccination on the health condition of their children. And this is not just an overnight problem. They have to bear this in the next 10 to 20 years. According to health officials, children who availed of the vaccination but have not been afflicted with the dengue virus should be monitored until they become adults. Tiaw nimo na. Ang kabalaka, kahingawa ug kahadlok sa mga ginikanan ug sa mga pasyente dili kabayran og sapi.

There is now finger-pointing among the agencies involved. DOH officials claimed they just followed the guidelines and recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) before they bought the vaccine and implemented massive immunization. But WHO denied having recommended and endorsed the vaccine. Wala nay mangangkon.

As for the government’s plan to return the unused vaccine and demand for a refund, with the amount to be used for the indemnity fund, I think it should be pursued so the unused vaccine won’t be wasted. After this brouhaha, nobody would want to avail of the vaccine anymore. Nangahadlok na tanan. So if the unused vaccine won’t be returned and the government refunded, it will lose money amounting to P1.4 billion.

But I am afraid that Sanofi will also demand that the commissions and SOPs it gave to whoever was involved in the transaction should also be returned. Pero mauli pa kaha to? Pagkatoytoy.
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