Vicious accusations have been made regarding the low credibility of the government’s vaccination rollout that recently started with the Sinovac delivery and the failure to acquire Western medications with a higher efficacy as a result of the demand for an indemnification fund.
The bottom line of the blame game is that the Public Attorney’s Office should take the blame for the wide distrust on the massive inoculation effort because of its continued crusade against the Dengvaxia fiasco.
Of course, the yellow twist is expected with the strong lobby, since the scandal went all the way up in the hierarchy of the previous administration, plus the involvement of a powerful multinational drug firm which is trying to restore its image amid the controversy.
The line peddled was that “those who caused panic against a backdrop of politics and bad motives should be held liable for causing undue harm to the public,” which is in reference to PAO and its head Persida Acosta.
It was not the PAO or Acosta from where the scam started, nonetheless, as it was the mass vaccination of an untried medicine that led to some of the 800,000 children involved falling ill and probably dying, the circumstances of which are under PAO investigation.
Manufacturer French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur had warned belatedly, after the negotiations for mass immunization started, that the vaccine can be fatal to those who did not have a history of dengue.
As a result of the disclosure, the government halted the mass immunization started at the tail-end of the regime of former President Noynoy Aquino.
Aquino, his Health secretary Janette Garin and former Budget secretary Butch Abad are facing criminal complaints for the P3.5 billion contract for the purchase of Dengvaxia vaccines. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) just last month filed technical malversation complaints against the trio.
PAO is looking into possible stronger liabilities of the former officials, such as mass murder for administering the untested medicine.
Aquino in defending his campaign said, it “could have protected the health of our citizens but cannot deliver anymore because of politics and a lot of bad motivation.”
He then turned on the investigations into the health program in which he is now being held accountable, saying it was “like scandal and alarm. If there are people who were killed, they should be held liable.”
Acosta, nonetheless, referred to resolutions of the Senate and the House of Representatives in the investigations conducted on the irregular P3.5 billion deal that pointed to the real danger from the Dengvaxia episode.
Health expert Gene Nisperos, assistant professor of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, in his testimony before one of the congressional hearings, noted many of the safeguards that were in place “for the longest time” were violated intentionally “in order to push for a vaccine that was still in research level.”
She added the vaccination program was conducted “under very dubious and non-medical conditions that put children’s lives at stake.”
The conclusion of both chambers of Congress after the investigation was that the contract with Sanofi was rushed through the collusion of the now accused personalities in disregard of Dengvaxia’s repercussions on the children involved in the mandatory program.
The indemnification fund, which has been a practice in other governments, should not be associated with the PAO campaign against the scandal.
Those behind the smearing of the agencies involved in probing the Dengvaxia deal have an obvious motive of diverting public outrage.
Once the schemers are placed behind bars, then the confidence on health program returns.