MANILA — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said they are exploring the possibility of using part of the funds returned by Sanofi Pasteur for the unused Dengvaxia to address the concerns raised by parents of recipients of the controversial vaccine.
“Patungkol dito, kami ay susulat sa Kongreso at sa Office of the President para hingin na magkaroon kami ng autoridad na gamitin ang bahagi ng naibalik na kaperahan para dun sa di nagamit na Dengvaxia, para matustusan ang mga pangangailangan ng mga magulang ng nabakunahan (We intend to write and ask Congress and the Office of the President to give us the authority to use a portion of the funds returned for the unused Dengvaxia to support the needs of parents of recipients of the vaccine),” Duque told reporters during a press briefing at the Department of Health (DOH) Wednesday.
The health chief bared the plan following his dialogue with parents of children who received the vaccine and whose condition needs to be monitored for years.
He said he assured the parents that PhilHealth would help shoulder the costs of hospitalization and that an understanding has been reached with private hospitals.
“Nakikiusap kami sa private hospital na kung ano ang bayad ng PhilHealth, kung maaari ay sapat na ito (We are asking private hospitals to accept PhilHealth’s rates),” he said, adding that in case there are additional bills, parents will be reimbursed by the DOH.
On the request of parents to obtain dengue kits and multivitamins for the children, Duque said the department has begun providing them but due to fund limitations and the proper procurement process, not all Dengvaxia recipients would receive them immediately.
“Limitado pa ito, pero kami ay magpupursige na makatukoy ng kaperahan at patuloy na makatukoy ng kaperahan at tustusan itong suporta ng DOH para sa mga magulang (The provision of the dengue kits and multivitamins is still limited but we will continue to search for funds to enable the DOH to help the parents),” he added.
A dengue kit contains mosquito repellant, a thermometer, oral rehydration solution, and soap.
A number of dengue kits were distributed to Dengvaxia recipients in Metro Manila after the DOH’s office in the Mimaropa region turned over some of their stocks to the central office. Mimaropa covers the provinces of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan.
DOH-Mimaropa had provided the dengue kits after monitoring that there were children in the region who were vaccinated with Dengvaxia in private clinics.
During the dialogue, also held Wednesday, parents sought an allowance to cover the costs they expect to encounter while monitoring the effects of Dengvaxia on their children’s health. These expenses include transportation fares for the children’s check-up in case they live far from hospitals or health centers, and the purchase of nutritious food that would boost the children’s immune system.
Duque assured that while the DOH could not provide these requests at the moment, the department is heeding the parents’ concerns to the best of its abilities by searching for funds.
He however reminded the parents to take preventive measures to protect their children against illnesses and to immediately seek medical attention when the kids get sick. (PNA)