Stop grandstanding on Dengvaxia issue, De Lima tells Acosta

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has scored Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta for grandstanding on the Dengvaxia issue which scares off parents from availing free vaccines to protect their children from life-threatening diseases, such as measles.

De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, slammed Acosta for sowing public fear on the vaccination program and treating children as pawns to up her political game and fulfil her selfish ambitions.

“Our country’s immunization program is now in a quandary and our children’s health is under threat because of the vaccine scare triggered by the grandstanding of Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta to be in Duterte’s good graces,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 454.

“If she is truly bent on finding the truth about the cause of deaths of the children vaccinated with Dengvaxia, she must do the right thing for the bereaved families want nothing less than the truth,” she added.

Official figures showed that the number of deaths from measles climbed five times to 17,289 between January to November 2018 from 3,706 cases during the same period in 2017.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque confirmed that the measles outbreak can be attributed to the refusal of families to get vaccinated due to the exaggeration of Acosta and some allies of Mr. Duterte about the purported deaths from Dengvaxia vaccine.

Note that the mother of a certain Dr. Kendrick Gotoc, one of the personnel the Quezon City Health Department who was allegedly given three dosages of Dengvaxia, filed charges against Duque and 38 other respondents in the Department of Justice (DOJ), after PAO claimed that Gotoc died due to the effects of Dengvaxia.

“This government, through PAO Chief Acosta, has eroded with just one act of political witch-hunting what the DOH has worked for in decades – getting the public’s trust to its immunization programs and ensuring that children even from poor families are protected from preventable diseases,” De Lima pointed out.

The lady Senator from Bicol said Acosta should rely on medical science and experts on the field to find out the real reason behind the deaths of individuals, especially children, who were vaccinated with Dengvaxia.

“She can only serve that purpose within the confines of legal arena and medical science, not outside, in the public sphere, as if the truth over the death of the children can be decided by public opinion and not through the better guidance of forensic analysis,” De Lima said.

“Buhay at kalusugan ng libo-libong kabataan ang nakataya rito, kaya kung may katotohanang dapat hanapin sa likod ng Dengvaxia vaccine, saliksikin, hindi pulitikahin. Sa halip na hanapan ng solusyon ang problema, higit pa ninyong pinalalala at binabalot sa takot ngayon ang publiko,” she added.

The Dengvaxia controversy started in November 2017 after pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur announced that Dengvaxia may cause severe dengue when administered to patients who have not acquired the mosquito-borne disease prior. In December 2018, De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 966 calling for a Senate probe into pandemic potential of measles that has caused deaths and infections in some parts of the country while people shunned away from the government’s free vaccines.

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