Ex-Health Sec. Ubial on Dengvaxia drive: ‘I had no choice but to implement it’

By , on December 11, 2017


FILE: Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial announces during the Mindanao Hour press briefing at the Kalayaan Hall of Malacañan Palace on July 17, 2017 that medical services are being provided to the families and individuals from Marawi City that are currently taking refuge in different centers. Also in the photo is Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella. ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO
FILE: Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial announces during the Mindanao Hour press briefing at the Kalayaan Hall of Malacañan Palace on July 17, 2017 that medical services are being provided to the families and individuals from Marawi City that are currently taking refuge in different centers. Also in the photo is Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella. ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Former Health Secretary Paulyn Rosell-Ubial on Monday admitted that she was forced to implement the controversial multi-billion anti-dengue vaccination program of the government.

Despite her doubts over the implementation of the vaccination program, Ubial said she was told to by some congressmen to honor the existing contract between the government and Dengvaxia’s maker, French pharmeceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur, or risk facing jail by rolling out the anti-dengue vaccine.

“It is very difficult for me to implement this, I want to stop that. People, even in Congress, told me, ‘You will go to jail, doctora, if you do not implement this program because there is a contract. You have to honor that contract,” Ubial said during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and Health Committee probe into the anti-dengue vaccine program mess.

“I had no choice but to implement it at the time, but I’m glad I flip-flopped on the issue, and delayed the implementation of the program,” she added.

The former health secretary, during her term, issued a Resolution temporarily suspending the dengue vaccination program where she said that the government should take at least one to two years of preparation before fully implementing the massive vaccination program.

“If you mix politics and health, it’s really a disaster,” Ubial, who sat as DOH chief from July to October 2017, stressed.

The government has earlier halted the dengue immunization program after Sanofi revealed that according to a new clinical analysis, Dengvaxia poses more harm to individuals without prior dengue infections.

[READ: FDA orders withdrawal of dengue vaccine Dengvaxia from the market]

For the protection of the general public, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered Sanofi Pasteur to suspend the distribution, sale, and marketing of Dengvaxia.