Health Secretary Francisco Duque III turned emotional when he faced the Commission on Appointments (CA) Wednesday morning as he admitted the “struggles” of his department amid the Dengvaxia controversy.
Senator Risa Hontiveros asked Duque how he plans to “rebuild public trust” after the secretary himself said that the immunization coverage has dropped following public fears on the government’s vaccination programs.
“It’s a tall order. It’s a struggle, I would be the first to admit — to rebuild the morale of our ailing organization. But as doctors, we are prepared to deal with it,” said Duque, who was only appointed to the post last October.
Duque said the Department of Health (DOH) is not only after public satisfaction but more so “public endearment to the capacity of the DOH to provide quality health services.”
“It’s vital that the trust and confidence of the Filipino public are regained and I think the prescription again is to make everybody realize in the DOH the importance of well-defined governance program,” Duque said.
Duque said that he has not missed a flag-raising ceremony so that he could constantly remind his employees that the Dengvaxia controversy is not only a challenge for the DOH, but also a “great opportunity to reflect on what has happened and what had been lost along the way.”
“When our budget was measly P10 [billion] to P11 billion, we have much better immunization coverage. We enjoyed consistent public trust and satisfaction ratings, availment, public awareness of programs,” Duque said.
Duque was also DOH secretary during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“I think we need to recapture the glorious days — if you don’t mind — of the DOH then. And we hope that we will be able to motivate and inspire our people to —,” Duque said as he cut short his statement, appearing teary-eyed before the CA committee on health.
The DOH stopped the government's dengue immunization program on December 1 following Sanofi Pasteur’s announcement that the vaccine may increase the risk of hospitalization for dengue and severe dengue in those with no prior infection.
More than 830,000 children aged 9 and above from public schools in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and Cebu were vaccinated with Dengvaxia according to DOH.
Duque said the DOH is focused on monitoring children who got the vaccine. — GMA News