Capitol open to Dengvaxia use

(Photo courtesy of Lianhe Zaobao via

By: Gerome Dalipe

THE Iloilo Provincial Government may allow local health officials to use the controversial Dengvaxia to fight the rising number of dengue cases.

In a press conference, Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. said district hospitals in the Province need dengue vaccination amid rising cases and deaths.

But Defensor clarified that he will only recommend the use of Dengvaxia if the Department of Health green lights the move.

“We will only use the vaccine once the regulatory body approves it. So, the final decision rests with the regulatory agency, which is the DOH,” he said.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte contemplated on allowing the use of the dengue vaccine if health authorities recommend to combat the epidemic.

In 2017, the Department of Health (DOH) stopped the massive dengue immunization program using Dengvaxia after its manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, said patients that who had no prior exposure to the dengue virus could suffer severe symptoms.

Over 800,000 children from the public school received the vaccination under the P3.5-billion immunization program.

But the vaccination was later stopped and Sanofi subsequently reimbursed P1.16 billion to the government for the unused vaccines.

The controversy led to the congressional inquiries as well as graft charges against former health secretary now Iloilo 1st district Rep. Janette Garin, former President Benigno Aquino III, and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, among other people.

Garin, a vocal advocate of Dengvaxia, appealed to the government to use the vaccine as the dengue cases continue to surge.

She pointed out that only those with dengue or were infected before should be vaccinated while persons who have yet to be infected will not be vaccinated

She also proposed that if the vaccine will not be available to government doctors, it should be made available to private practitioners.

But Health Secretary Francisco Duque III rejected the call during his visit to Iloilo to check the dengue victims.

Duque said they need to study the recommendation since the available tests of the vaccine are not very specific.

“In other words, there’s no specificity. The question remains whether it is really the dengue virus that has been picked up by the test?” Duque told in a press conference.

In Western Visayas, health officials recorded 23, 216 cases dengue with 111 deaths as of July 31.

In Iloilo Province, dengue fever cases have increased by over 998 percent as compared to last year’s 620 cases with three deaths from January to July 2018, records from the Provincial Health Office showed.

The Provincial Government has allotted about P26.5-million for the purchase of medicines and other medical supplies following its declaration of a state of calamity due to dengue outbreak.

The Provincial Board approved the resolution placing the Province under the calamity state as dengue cases reached 6,806 with 23 deaths since Jan.1, according to the Provincial Health Office (PHO).

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) recommended the declaration of a state of calamity after Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. declared a dengue outbreak last July 15.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) approved the calamity declaration, citing the 6,806 dengue cases with 23 deaths recorded by the Provincial Health Office (PHO) since Jan. 1 this year.