MANILA, Philippines – Former Health Secretary Janette Garin said she would face the investigation on the government’s dengue vaccination program, which had been put on hold by the Department of Health (DOH) after the vaccine’s manufacturer, Sanofi, raised health concerns.
“I welcome the investigation that will be conducted by the Department of Justice and the Senate. I will answer all questions at the right time and in the appropriate forum,” she said in reply to InterAksyon when asked for her reaction to the issue.
Garin was DOH Secretary during the Aquino administration when the department launched the vaccine program in April 2016. It gave free Dengvaxia vaccine to selected Grade 4 public school pupils in three regions with the highest number of dengue cases – Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon.
Dengvaxia is the world’s first vaccine against dengue virus developed by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur. It was licensed and approved for use in the Philippines by the Food and Drug Administration.
Garin said she would also be monitoring further explanations from DOH and the World Health Organization (WHO) about the vaccine, saying they are the authorities on the matter.
“In the event that authorities point culpability to me, I am ready to face the consequences,” she said.
Garin also clarified that the dengue vaccination program plan started even before her tenure at the DOH.
“We implemented it in accordance with WHO guidance and recommendations,” she said, adding that even before the official Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization, there were meetings and consultations between experts, WHO and DOH technical officials.
“We fully cooperated and consulted with WHO prior to the implementation of this program. With the desire to resolve this deadly virus, the department started the vaccination program which has been seen until now to be strongly beneficial to 9 out of 10 Filipinos,” Garin added.