House body resumes probe of school-based dengue vaccine program

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(file photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The House Committee on Health continued on Monday its investigation into the alleged anomalous school-based dengue immunization program in the country.

One parent, Nelso de Guzman, said his daughter was vaccinated for dengue in April this year. Six months later, however, his daughter still contracted dengue.

De Guzman said his daughter told him that she was having difficulty breathing so they rushed her to the hospital. Doctors attended to his daughter, but she still died.

He shared his story during the House probe on the Department of Health's allegedly anomalous purchase of the ₱3.5 billion dengue vaccine during the Aquino administration.

Watch: DOH starts free dengue vaccination

During the hearing, former Health Secretary Janet Garin explained even the World Health Organization (WHO) had admitted there's no sure guarantee the vaccine would prevent the disease.

"But what is important is areas with incidence of high transmission should benefit from this. What is important is that severe dengue will go down," Garin said.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial questioned the ₱3.5 billion released for the program.

"The amount of ₱3.5 billion is not in the 2015 GAA nor in the 2016 GAA. How can it be made available by the DBM without presidential approval?" Ubial said.

She said the same amount could already fund vaccines for 12 preventable diseases.

Watch: Citizens vs. dengue: Symptoms, treatment, prevention

She also questioned why the program was started during the election season.

"Usually we don't do new introductions together with a major national event because we don't want focus and inadequate social preparation to interfere with the introduction of this new vaccine."

Garin, however, explained dengue cases normally would rise during the rainy season.

She said, "The other officials of the DOH met. Their recommendation to me was to start it before the start of the rainy season, before the expected spike so that magkaroon nang protection [so that there would be protection]."

Garin argued, while the dengue vaccine may be expensive, the Food and Drug Adminsitration in Brazil, a WHO-accredited laboratory, approved its safety and efficacy.