Robredo: Children bear repercussions of making 'health a political issue'

MANILA, Philippines – Public health was turned into a "political issue" in the Philippines and Vice President Leni Robredo lamented it is the children who now bear the "burden of older people's problems."

In her weekly radio show on Sunday, September 22, Robredo expressed sadness over the re-emergence of polio. "Measles returned, dengue cases spiked, polio returned after 19 years. These are preventable by vaccination, right?" she asked in Filipino.

She argues that polio returned due to the scare on vaccination, triggered by the controversy on Dengvaxia, a dengue vaccine that got shelved due to the increased risks it posed. (READ: A year after Dengvaxia: Immunization drops, measles outbreaks soar)

The Department of Health (DOH) has recently declared a polio epidemic after a 3-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur tested positive of the poliovirus, the first case of the disease since the country was declared polio-free in October 2000. It was immediately followed by second confirmed case. A 5-year-old boy from Laguna had also contracted the poliovirus.

"Kaya sino naman iyong hindi talaga...mahahabag, maiinis, na dahil ginawang political issue iyong health, iyong mga kabataan natin iyong kailangang sumalo ng problema ng matatanda," Robredo added.

(Who would not be saddened, annoyed, that a political issue was made over public health, that our youth are bearing the burden of older people's problems?)

Robredo urged the DOH to catch up on children's vaccinations.

"Inaasahan natin na iyong mga opisina ng ating pamahalaan, particularly iyong DOH, talagang magiging... magiging aggressive sa paghabol, kasi parang nag-several steps backward tayo... Iyon nga, paghahabol noong mga na-miss out natin dahil sa controversy."

(I hope that the government, particularly DOH, will be more aggressive in catching up, because we have taken several steps backward... Catching up on those we missed due to the controversy.)

The Vice President also defended her daughter, Tricia Robredo, who criticized in a tweet those who have used health issues for "personal political wars." Tricia got bashed herself by Robredo's critics after that tweet.

Measles, dengue and polio all in one year. When you run a nation with fear and fake news, and use health for your personal political wars. Sinong talo? 'Yung mga pinangakuan ninyo ng pagbabago. — Tricia Robredo (@jpgrobredo) September 19, 2019

Robredo said that Tricia, a medical student, has taken up public vaccination as an advocacy. – Michael Bueza/