Former head of health Enrique Ona denies having participated in the Dengvaxia affair, but his successor Janette Garin says it was Ona who presented the idea to the previous president Benigno Aquino III
MANILA, Philippines – Former Health Secretary Enrique Ona faced the Senate blue ribbon committee for the first time on Monday, January 22, where he criticized the implementation of the now controversial P3.5 of the Aquino administration The vaccination program faces scrutiny after vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur revealed that there are potential health risks from using the Dengvaxia vaccine.
Asked by committee chairman, Senator Richard Gordon, if he would recommend the use of the vaccine if he were still the DOH chief, Ona said he would not do so by citing "red" flags.
"This should not have been implemented in the way it was done, that is, targeting almost one million children, because the basis for the problems that were being raised was still a big question mark," Ona said.
"Ibig pong sabihin dapat pag-isipan po nang husto kung i-implement po & # 39; yun. (This means that they should have thought long before implementing it) If I were the Secretary of Health , I would not implement it to that extent, "he said.
Ona was the Aquino administration's first health chief, in charge from June 2010 to December 2014. The program was implemented in 2016, and former president Benigno Aquino III said that it was Ona who presented him .
During the hearing, Ona also reiterated his previously issued statement and blamed his successor Janette Garin for the "great nightmare of health."
Ona also said he did not talk to Garin about the program, something the latter refuted.
Garin said that Ona called her twice in 2014 to attend her meetings with the manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur in her office. At that time, she was still an undersecretary. Garin also said that Ona even asked him to convene a press conference.
"Finally, your honor, in relation to the dengue vaccine. Sinabi po niya di po kami nagkausap . (He said we do not talk about that.) Your honor, I do not agree, when I was undersecretary of the Department of Health, two meetings by a pinatawag ako sa (who called me to the office) of the Secretary to join him at the Sanofi Pasteur meeting, "Garin said.
"I'm not saying these are bad meetings." [These are] updates on clinical trials and even Secretary Ona was pleased with the presentation. Sinabi sakin mag-fix [ako] ng presscon . he told me to fix a presscon.) I even had a picture on my phone, I'm going to try to find and present this body, "he added.
Garin also said that it was Ona who first brought the issue of the vaccine to the attention of former President Aquino, similar to the previous statement of the former chief executive.
" Ang nagdala po sa kan kang Pangulong Aquino for pag-usapan ang bakuna ay si Secretary Ona himself When he asked me to accompany him, it was initially Usec Gaco binitbitt po ako," said Garin.
(It was Secretary Ona himself who tagged me to talk about the vaccine to President Aquino)
Aquino previously told the Senate panel that he was made to understand that the vaccine had been subjected to all necessary local and international processes to determine its safety and effectiveness for mass use.
At that time, Aquino did not tell anyone, not even his own health secretary, told him about his concerns about the vaccine against dengue.
Ona also denied Aquino's statement that he met with Sanofi officials in China in November 2014 with Ona.
"That is a complete surprise to me. Kung yun ang sinabi niya (if that's what he said), I was not in Beijing that month and it was only in August 2014 when I was in Beijing I do not remember any, "said Ona.
Less than two years after the release, Sanofi said that Dengvaxia could cause a more serious case of dengue when it is administered to a person who has not been infected with the virus before immunization. (LEE: The conflict between Garin and FEC arises in the investigation of Dengvaxia)
The Secretary of the DOH Francisco Duque III suspended the program after the announcement, but not before more than 830,000 schoolchildren received the risky vaccine. – Rappler.com