Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, Bataan has called for the prosecution and punishment of government officials responsible for the P3.5-billion procurement of Dengvaxia vaccines, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) news website reported on Tuesday.
“We urgently and strongly call for full investigation of this serious matter, prosecution and punishment of previous highest government officials,” Santos said.
The bishop lamented that the “negligence and irresponsible actions" of the officials have endangered the lives of more than 800,000 children.
After six years of studying clinical data, dengue vaccine manufacturer Sanofi said it found that Dengvaxia was only beneficial in the prevention of dengue fever to those who have already suffered from the other serotypes of the virus.
In the country, the vaccine was used by the Department of Health (DOH) in its national immunization program in April 2016.
The revelation led to the formation of two task forces in the DOH, and an investigation conducted by the Senate.
Bishop Santos said the Diocese of Balanga was “very much affected” by the controversy.
The report cited a Grade 5 student in Mariveles, Bataan who died of severe dengue in October last year, months after she received a shot of Dengvaxia.
“Life is not an experiment. Life is not trial and error. And life is erroneously lost, wasted by careless and irresponsible decisions of those government officials,” Santos said.
“We are praying for the safety of our schoolchildren and their sound health. May they be spared from sickness and from heartless people motivated by profit, and personal and political interests,” the prelate added.
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to "run after all individuals who may have criminal culpability" for the use of Dengvaxia in the immunization of hundreds of thousands of school children. — BAP, GMA News