Health coalition urges Justice dep’t to pursue case vs Garin on Dengvaxia controversy

Photo from the Coalition for People’s Right to Health Facebook page.

The coalition pointed out that there have been warnings on the dangers of Dengvaxia published by international and local experts and the World Health Organization (WHO) since March 2016, but the government still proceeded with the program.

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – The Coalition for People’s Right to Health (CPRH) urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to be pro-people and pursue criminal cases against former Health Secretary Janette Garin and 40 other health and Sanofi officials in relation to the Dengvaxia mess.

The group said that justice should be served to those who were inoculated with Dengvaxia.

Reports said there are now 11 criminal complaints filed against Garin and other officials connected to the Dengvaxia mess in the DOJ.

“The people have been struggling to achieve justice for the Dengvaxia vaccinated children, and the DOJ cases could be a step closer to it,” Dr. Julie Caguiat, spokesperson of CPRH said in a statement.

She said it could not be denied that the previous administration of President Benigno Aquino III implemented the mass vaccination program in haste “for dubious reasons and could be riddled with corruption.”

The P3.5 billion ($65 million) mass vaccination program was highly controversial as the Aquino administration was about to finish its term when it was implemented in April 2016, a month before the national elections. The vaccine was administered to 700,000 Grade 5 pupils.

“The connivance between government officials and giant multi-national companies benefited those in power while it caused harm on ordinary citizens. It is time that the people gets a chance to fight back,” said Caguiat.

Read: People’s health as a business

Garin, as well as Aquino, maintained that there was no negligence on their part.

The Dengvaxia vaccine was administered to children despite the unfinished phase three clinical trials. On Nov. 29, 2017 Sanofi released a statement saying that six years of clinical trial data found that Dengvaxia can cause severe dengue fever to those who have not contracted the disease. This resulted in panic and anxiety among parents whose children were vaccinated.

The coalition pointed out that there have been warnings on the dangers of Dengvaxia published by international and local experts and the World Health Organization (WHO) since March 2016, but the government still proceeded with the program.

Read: Dengue mass vaccination was based on politics, not science – health group

They asserted that the government and Sanofi officials are both responsible as they have promoted the Dengvaxia program even if clinical trials are still on-going.

The coalition also stressed that the Department of Health officials such as former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial should also be held accountable for continuing the program.

Ubial admitted, during committee hearings in Congress, that she had prior knowledge on the adverse effects of Dengvaxia but continued the program allegedly due to pressure from some politicians.

Read: Political patronage, risking people’s health

For the coalition, “the DOJ can be non-partisan and impartial on the case by investigating other Duterte administration public officials that continued the program since 2016.”

Meanwhile, Caguiat called on the people to remain vigilant as the Philippine justice system has “a long record of acquitting government officials who have committed crimes toward its own people.”

“If proper justice is served, then this would be a lesson to government officials to act with diligence since the Dengvaxia fiasco is a clear case of government neglect,” Caguiat said. ()

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