Secretary Francisco Duque III on Saturday said the Department of Health's (DOH) top level task force will determine how the past leadership came to a decision to use Dengvaxia in the government's dengue immunization program.
"Ang bisa ng task force na ito ay hangga't hindi natin malinawan... Unang-una, siyempre iniimbestigahan din namin 'yan, gumagawa kami ng audit ng mga ginawa at ang mga kaganapan na humantong sa desisyon na pabakunahan ang isang milyong bata," Duque said in a radio dzBB interview.
He said the task force will attempt to come up with all of the details of the program, from the negotiations to the procurement of Dengvaxia and the actual implementation of the program.
"So kailangang maintindihan natin 'yan, mapalutang natin ang lahat ng mga impormasyon, datos," Duque said.
The DOH had said that at least 830,000 public schoolchildren were immunized with Dengvaxia since March 2016, during the time of former Health secretary Janette Garin.
In a television interview, Garin had said that talks on the procurement of Dengvaxia from Sanofi Pasteur started during the time of her predecessor, Dr. Enrique Ona.
Meanwhile, Duque assured the public that the task force's members are experts and will resolve concerns over the government's dengue immunization program.
"High level na task forc eito. Talagang magagaling itong mga ito at talagang makakatulong sila para sa bandang huli masolusyonan itong problemang ito. Naniniwala naman ko na masosolusyonan ito," Duque said in a radio dzBB interview.
The health secretary said the task force members are top DOH officials including Undersecretary Herminigildo Valle, head of the Office for Field Implementation and Management; Undersecretary Mario Villaverde, head of the Office for Health Regulation; Undersecretary Roger Tong-an, head of the Office for Health Service Development; and Undersecretary Eric Domingo.
Duque had said that the task force will monitor and attend to the needs of those immunized with Sanofi Pasteur's Dengvaxia dengue vaccine.
It will also review the entire dengue immunization initiative, which started in March 2016, during the time of former Health secretary Janette Garin.
Duque said the findings of the task force's review will be the DOH's guide in responding to the safety concerns over the use of Dengvaxia.
Aside from these, the Health chief said the task force will also be responsible for the close communication with families of those who were immunized with Dengvaxia in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and Cebu province.
He said the task force will remain in place for at least five years.
"Siguro baka hanggang limang taon itong task force na ito kasi importante rito 'yung surveillance ng limang taon, magiging mapagmatyag ang Department of Health at ang kaniyang mga opisina sa naturang mga rehiyon at siguraduhin na mababantayan ang sinumang magpapakita ng malubhang sintomas ng dengue infection bunsod nitong pagbabakuna sa mga taong hindi pa nagkakaroon ng dengue infection sa nakalipas," Duque said.
Duque suspended the dengue immunization program following Sanofi's advisory that people that have not been hit by the dengue virus should not be immunized with Dengvaxia.
The government has also stopped the sale of the vaccine and had ordered Sanofi to recall the product from the market.
Duque had said that the DOH will demand from Sanofi the refund of the P3.5 billion the government paid for the vaccine and an indemnification fund to cover the treatment of children who might contract severe dengue after being vaccinated with Dengvaxia.
The health secretary said PhilHealth will help in the hospitalization needs of Dengvaxia-vaccinated children who will show signs of severe dengue infection.
"Sa lahat ng mga tatamaan niyan ay sasagutin ng PhilHealth 'yung from P8,000 sa minor dengue to about P16,000 sa mga major dengue hospitalization," he said.
He said that if the patient would need additional fund, the government will take it from the indemnification fund of Sanofi.
"Ang hihingiin ko rin, after next week, matapos ng recommendation ng WHO, ay kakausapin ko ang Sanofi, sabihin ko magtatag sila ng indemnification fund para 'yung pondo, kung lalampas sa gastos na babayaran ng PhilHealth, sila ang pupuno ng puwang," he said. —Jamil Santos/ALG, GMA News