House panel to DOH: Scrap plan to distribute P270M Dengvaxia medical kits

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The House committee on appropriations chaired by Davao City first-district Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles on Wednesday recommended to the Department of Health (DOH) to remove from its proposed supplemental budget for 2018 the distribution of medical kits to Dengvaxia recipients.

During a briefing by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on the issues related to the Dengvaxia vaccine, Nograles said the DOH should instead focus on the profiling of Dengvaxia recipients.

The DOH led by Health Secretary Francisco Duque was among the agencies called to a briefing by the panel to discuss the proposed supplemental budget for 2018 and the issues on the Dengvaxia vaccine.

The proposed supplemental budget of 2018 is embodied in House Bill 7449 which seeks to appropriate the sum of P1,16 billion to fund the assistance to Dengvaxia recipients.

The amount is the refund from Zuellig Pharma, the local distributor of the Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur, covering the unused vials of Dengvaxia vaccines.

Under the DOH Dengvaxia Assistance Program, the amount of P270 million will be allocated for the distribution of medical kits to Dengvaxia recipients and P300 million for the proposed active case finding (Project-Based Profiling /Navigation) of those who had been vaccinated.

Likewise, the amount of P84 million will be allocated for the Medical Assistance Program for Dengvaxia Patients; P776 million for Outpatient Care Package; and P67.8 million for Deployment of Nurse – Health Education and Promotion Officers (HEPOs).

“You’re asking us for P270 million for medical kits that contains a thermometer, one mosquito repellant, two bottles of multi-vitamins and a bag. Tatanungin ko ang mga parents na nandito: Kayo ba pag nakatanggap kayo ng medical kit mula sa gobyerono, matutuwa ba kayo?” Nograles said.

One of the representatives of parents of Denvaxia recipients said: “Hindi po totally matutuwa kasi hindi naman yun totally ang kailangan ng mga magulang. Isa lang yun sa kailangan pero hindi yun ang pinakakailangan.”

Nograles said the P270 million for medical kits already represents 18 percent of the budget which can be put to better use.

Committee vice chairman, Masbate third-district Rep. Scott Davies Lanete, concurred with the opinion of Nograles that the P270 million for medical kits is practically useless.

Lanete proposed instead that the amount should be saved for active treatment of patients who come to the hospitals with symptoms and signs of progressing dengue.