Dengvaxia refund to buy anti-dengue kits for vaccinated kids

MANILA, Philippines – Parents of children who got the risky Dengvaxia dengue vaccine can expect to receive their own dengue kit from the Department of Health (DOH) in the coming months.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III announced this to reporters after privately meeting with at least 10 mothers of vaccinated children on Wednesday, February 14.

These dengue kits contain a number of items that can help protect a child from getting dengue, including a mosquito net, soaps, multivitamins, a thermometer, and a paper listing the DOH’s hotlines to call for any medical emergencies. 

According to Duque, the DOH is estimating it will spend P600 million for the dengue kits. They are still finalizing the content within the kits.

DOH plans to fund the dengue kits through the P1.4 billion which Dengvaxia maker Sanofi Pasteur has refunded to the Philippine government for unused vaccine vials, following Duque’s suspension of the dengue immunization program.

Still, Duque appealed for the parents’ patience as DOH goes through the legal motions to procure and fund the dengue kits. 

“Ngunit ang akin pong pakiusap sa kanila na ito ay limitado pa. Ito ay di pa kayang ibigay sa lahat dahil dadaan pa ho ito sa proseso ng procurement and bidding. At kailangang hanapan pa rin ng pondo,” said Duque.

(But I appeal to them to understand the kits are still limited for now. Not all of them will be able to receive one because the kits will still go through the process of procurement and bidding. And we still need to properly fund them.)

He said he plans to write letters to Congress and the Office of the President to secure permission to use the refunded amount from Sanofi to buy the rest of the dengue kits. 

The dengue immunization program was halted by Duque in December last year after Sanofi said Dengvaxia may lead a person to develop severe dengue if he or she had not been infected by the virus prior vaccination. (READ: TIMELINE: Dengue immunization program for public school students)

Sanofi has already agreed to refund P1.4 billion worth of unused Dengvaxia vials to the government. But the French pharmaceutical giant has refused Duque’s second demand for them to fully refund the P3 billion paid by the government for all the dengue vaccine vials, including the used vaccines.

The risks posed by Dengvaxia has led to two congressional probes into the controversial dengue vaccination program launched by former health chief Janette Garin in April 2016 during the few weeks of Benigno Aquino III’s presidency.

Aquino, Garin, his former officials as well as executives of Sanofi and its distributor Zuellig Pharma are facing a number of complaints before the Supreme CourtDepartment of Justice, the Ombudsman, and the Commission on Elections. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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