Press Release/21 December 2017

The Department of Health (DOH) today revealed that it has sought the assistance of experts from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) to validate alleged deaths among vaccinated children in order to promote fairness and transparency.

“We are being transparent to erase doubts from other sectors that the DOH may be concealing information relevant to Dengvaxia vaccination,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III declared, adding that it is also part of the PGH’s mandate as a state university hospital to provide its expertise on matters of important national health concern.

UP-PGH will be providing an independent review and assessment on the probable cause of deaths of cases submitted by the DOH through an expert group of pediatricians, pathologists and other specialists with no financial or intellectual ties to Sanofi Pasteur.  

Duque reiterated that the DOH remains open to any inquiry and has, in fact, been cooperating with authorities on the investigation of Dengvaxia procurement and alleged deaths due to Dengvaxia vaccination.   The DOH continues to consolidate all relevant documents to be made available to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) upon the orders of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to look into the procurement and administration of the dengue vaccine on more than 830,000 Filipino children.

The DOH is committed to fully cooperate in the conduct of the investigation on the issue and has in fact already submitted relevant documents to the Senate and Congress last year even before the recent announcement of Sanofi Pasteur that the dengue vaccine poses risks on individuals with no prior dengue infection where the vaccine should no longer be administered,” the health chief stressed.

Secretary Duque said that the DOH will be instituting a more permanent scheme of monitoring all cases in the coming years through its recently created Dengue Vaccine Task Force.

The DOH has already constituted an independent expert panel of top scientists from relevant professional fields to examine new evidence on Dengvaxia and formulate specific technical guidelines on enhancing adverse event following immunization surveillance and monitoring, the safe administration of the dengue vaccine, case identification and management and setting up efficient hospital referral systems.   The DOH expert panel is set to convene for the first time next week.

Our public hospitals are prepared to handle and manage severe dengue and other potential adverse events following immunization.  We have long instituted the dengue fast lanes in our DOH hospitals,” Secretary Duque said.

The DOH further assures PhilHealth coverage for all those given the vaccine in government-sponsored programs. PhilHealth case rates for Dengue I is P10,000 and P16,000 for Dengue II cases. No Balance Billing applies to those who would be admitted in government hospitals.

Meanwhile, the DOH continues to respond to the public’s queries through its 24/7 hotlines apart from its Dengue Public Assistance Desks (DPAD) in the DOH Central Office and regional health offices in Regions III, IVA, NCR and VII to respond to the questions and concerns regarding the dengue vaccine.

The DOH, through its regional health offices, has recently began conducting orientations among schools and local government units covered by the dengue vaccination initiative.  The health department is set to hold a series of stakeholder meetings, which already started December 20, and attended by concerned government agencies such as the Department of Education, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Council for the Welfare of Children, as well as relevant accredited professional organizations.

 “We reiterate our call to the parents and caregivers of the vaccinated children to monitor their health as well. At the early signs of dengue, bring them to the nearest health facility so that they can be properly managed and further complications avoided. We also call on public health advocates to work with the DOH in finding solutions to resolve the current issue and protect the health of the vaccinated children.” the health chief urged.