The Doctors for Truth and Public Welfare support the World Health Organization’s decision to include Dengvaxia into the 2019 Essential Medicines List and List of Essential Diagnostics.
The medicines included in the WHO list are those that satisfy the priority health care needs of the population—medications to which people should have access to at all times, and in sufficient amounts.
The WHO released the latest version of the list in July 2019.
Dr. Minguita Padilla, Co-Convenor of the Doctors for Truth and Public Welfare, called to action the Department of Health to lift the ban on the vaccine amid the current rise in dengue cases, saying “[Dengvaxia] remains banned in the Philippines.
Padilla has sought the ban, as she noted that the country has a national dengue alert.
DTPW is a group of physicians, scientists, esteemed members of the academe, former secretaries of health, and past and present heads of various professional medical associations and NGOs.
DTPW believes that DoH Secretary Francisco Duque’s recent declaration of a national dengue alert shows that the Philippines falls under the “high-risk populations,” prompting WHO to recommend the anti-dengue vaccine.
There have been over 130,000 dengue cases and more than 500 deaths in the first six months of this year alone, causing concern from various sectors all around the nation.
The group, headed by former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, also released a statement on November 2018, urging the DOH to keep the vaccine in the market “given the findings that persistent, long term protection is given by the vaccine to those who have already gotten dengue infection.”
As dengue cases continue to surge, the group is once again appealing to the DOH to be open to the return of the vaccine into the market.
“The Philippines has the highest incidence and death rate from dengue this part of the world. Yet it is the only country in the world that has banned it. The vaccine need not be included in the Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI) of government so that government need not spend for it, but at least make it available to physicians to offer for the millions of patients who can benefit from it.
“We further ask that our government leaders listen to the scientific evidence provided so that we can move forward for the sake of public welfare,” said Padilla.
In a related development, Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta on Thursday hit ex-health secretary Janette Garin, now an Iloilo representative, for her call to bring back the controversial dengue vaccine to help address a dengue outbreak.
Veteran freelance actor Bodjie Pascua called out Acosta, ABS-CBN broadcaster Noli de Castro and diehard supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte to speak up on the issue.
Acosta reacted to Garin’s recommendation to make the Dengvaxia vaccines available again to prevent a dengue outbreak.
She challenged Garin “to have herself inoculated with the anti-dengue vaccines publicly if she really believes Dengvaxia is safe.”
At a previous news conference in Quezon City, Garin blamed PAO for the Dengvaxia scare that eroded public trust on the use of vaccines.
When asked during yesterday’s weekly forum, the Iloilo lawmaker also blamed a law designating a permanent term of office for a head of PAO.
She, however, maintained her innocence amid the filing of over 40 criminal and administrative cases filed against her by the relatives of children who died after receiving the anti-dengue vaccine.
Garin backed the return of Dengvaxia to reduce dengue severity by 93 percent and hospitalization by 80 percent.
“They (Garin and the others) should be inoculated publicly if they really believe that it (Dengvaxia) is safe,” Acosta told the Manila Standard.
“Include all members of their families,” she said.
But Garin had said that she could be inoculated with the vaccine because of her age.
“How much more money should the government spend for 100 million Filipinos or even half of the population at 50 million? Multiply the number to P3,000 each. Isn’t it cheaper to clean the households and the environment?” she asked.