The Department of Health should determine the experience of other countries that used a new vaccine that is being offered to the DOH to bolster its campaign against pneumonia, Rep. Mike Defensor of Anakalusugan Party-list said Saturday.
Defensor said the vaccine should have been “proven efficacious” in the countries that have already used it before it is procured by the health department.
“We don’t need to reinvent (the process), as there are models out there where we can base our strategy to achieve our dream of eradicating pneumonia among our people, most especially our children,” said Defensor, vice chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Health.
At the same time, Rep. Angelina Tan of Quezon, chairman of the House health committee, lauded the department for suspending the bidding for the vaccines and ordering a review of all the pneumococcal conjugate vaccines being offered.
Tan, however, said the reassessment “must really be finished soon, considering the continued threat posed by pneumonia on children.”
She said this after the department ordered the Health Technology Assessment Council to complete the assessment for the PCV tender within one month.
Earlier, Anna Ong Lim, president of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines, said the Philippines is among the top 15 countries in terms of pneumonia deaths.
Lim added that 75 percent of all pneumonia deaths are in those 15 countries. She noted the two anti-pneumonia vaccines being offered to the DOH—PCV10 and PCV13—help in controlling the overall disease burden from pneumococcal diseases.
Earlier this month, the DOH suspended the first call for tender for pneumonia vaccines, in response to public clamor that biddings should be open and competitive.
“Biddings should not favor a single brand,” Tan stressed. “I’m into open, competitive bidding because bids should not lean on certain companies. The more cost-effective product should be purchased.”
Medical experts have said open competitive bidding for vaccines is good for the Philippines because an open bid can save hundreds of millions of pesos year after year that can be used for public health initiatives by the government and save more lives and address more diseases.