Women urge Duterte to provide financial aid for Dengvaxia victims

Gabriela Metro Manila sets up ‘Dengvaxia Watch’ hotlines for parents of children vaccinated with Dengvaxia.

Women’s group Gabriela Metro Manila launched a signature campaign today for their petition demanding financial support from the Duterte government for the victims of the Dengvaxia vaccine. The group aims to gather as much signatories to further put on pressure against the negligence of the government over the poor Filipino children being victimized by Dengvaxia.

The petition was still in reaction to the ‘Dengvaxia fiasco’ that unfurled when French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur released a statement on a clinical study that Dengvaxia increases the risk of contracting severe dengue for those who got the vaccine without prior infection.

“While these people behind the Dengvaxia controversy hurl blames against each other during the recent Senate hearing, the present government has no clear plans for the victims. President Duterte must offer immediate financial aid to all Dengvaxia victims which they can use for the monitoring of their health condition,” said Nora Calubaquib, chairperson of Gabriela Metro Manila.

Women seek financial aid from Duterte administration for those immunized with Dengvaxia. Photo by Kathy Yamzon.
Women seek financial aid from Duterte administration for those immunized with Dengvaxia. Photo by Kathy Yamzon.

The financial amount that could be given to all victims may amount to P16,000, equal to what Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque said would be available through Philhealth for the victims.

The women’s group said that to be able to avail of Duque’s idea of financial assistance only through Philhealth meant in the event of hospital confinement, which would mean that the child has already contracted dengue or severe dengue.

“Why wait for that eventuality? It is so grueling for mothers, helpless poor victims who were required to take this vaccine, night by night, for every body temperature change of their children, thinking this may be it. And why only the poor, those students from public schools, were forced to take the vaccine? Because we should feel thankful it was for free? Even if it was still on trial stage. And why in large numbers, violating the government’s own immunization program guidelines? So more funds could be released and right before the presidential elections. Is it not true that those in government has always viewed the lives of the poor expendable for their own interests,” said Calubaquib in an interview.

Gabriela Metro Manila also said that if government would be spending a yet unrestricted amount or budget for the Martial Law in Mindanao, and around P5.87 billion for six months in Marawi alone, then it should be able to spend at least P12 billion for the financial assistance to the victims.

The group also launched today ‘Dengvaxia Watch’ and hotlines that would receive reports from parents of the more than 750,000 children who were given the dengue immunization vaccine Dengvaxia.

The group said “the hotline aims to monitor the health conditions of public school students after making them vulnerable to experience illness or severe dengue after receiving the dose of the vaccine.”

Gabriela Metro Manila said that their Services Committee would be receiving reports, complaints and other information on their ‘Dengvaxia Watch’ hotlines from Mondays to Sundays from 8am till 5pm. They also assured that all the reports received would be treated with confidentiality and would be acted upon accordingly.

The ‘Dengvaxia Watch’ hotlines were as follows:

LANDLINE NUMBER: (02) 3535077

GLOBE: 0977-6274755

SMART: 0908-3653366

FACEBOOK PAGE: Dengvaxia Watch

E-MAIL ADDRESS: dengvaxia.watch@gmail.com

Dengvaxia Watch hotline. Photo by Kathy Yamzon.
Dengvaxia Watch hotline. Photo by Kathy Yamzon.

The press conference today was attended by Gabriela Women’s Partylist Representative Arlene Brosas, leaders of Gabriela Metro Manila, child welfare groups and some parents of the children immunized by Dengvaxia.

Accountability

While they primarily pushed for what could be done for the children, Gabriela Metro Manila also said that heads must roll from the Aquino and Duterte administrations that put the lives of the more than 750,000 Filipino children in danger.

The women’s group insisted that former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, President Rodrigo Duterte, former Health secretary Janette Garin and Sanofi must be held accountable over the Dengvaxia fiasco.

The group urged Aquino, Duterte and Garin ‘to stop pointing fingers and rather account for the poor children whose lives were endangered as they were treated as ‘guinea pigs’ and ‘laboratory rats.’’

She also called on the government to provide free laboratory tests and other health services for all the children injected with Dengvaxia.

“Aside from the financial support, the government must take a closer look on the welfare of the vaccinated children. A single life taken away by Dengvaxia must cost criminal liability to those who pushed through with the implementation of this more than P3.5 billion project,” ended Calubaquib.

The group also questioned how much the government really spent on the immunization program, as the mentioned P3.5 billion amount spent was supposedly for the purchase of vaccines alone. The procurement of the vaccines were done already during the 90-day campaign period for the 2016 presidential elections. The first shot of the vaccine was given just before Aquino left office, and the second and third shots during Duterte’s first year in office.

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