Philippines Report

Aquino ready to face Dengvaxia probe at Senate

Former President Benigno Aquino III has expressed his willingness to attend the next Senate inquiry into his administration's P3.5-billion dengue vaccination program.

In 2015, Aquino ordered the realignment of the vaccination fund from the budget to purchase three million doses of Dengvaxia from pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur.

“We want to participate in telling the truth to the people, as we have always done; at the same time, observing compliance to various laws, rules and traditions,” Aquino said in a statement.

 The former president has been invited to attend the joint inquiry of the Senate blue ribbon and Health committees, which is looking into possible irregularities in the immunization program.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said that Aquino should attend the Senate inquiry for his “own good.”

“I think the former president should himself come forward… and say, ‘This is what happened and this is what I agreed to based on some recommendation that I followed because somebody had advised me,” Duque said in a television interview last week.

The Department of Health suspended its dengue vaccination program following an analysis from Sanofi Pasteur that patients not infected with dengue risk getting “severe” dengue if infected after vaccination.

Aquino approved the vaccination program, that started in April 2016, where the DOH gave free vaccines to children, nine years old and above, from public schools in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and the CALABARZON region.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education, in cooperation with the Department of Health, Department of the Interior and Local Government are set to implement strengthened monitoring and surveillance system for children who have been vaccinated in the affected regions.

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