A MOTHER whose child was given the controversial Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine broke down as she expressed frustration over the alleged insensitivity of some doctors and the lack of information on the waiver she signed that allowed her child to be part of the government’s mass immunization program.
“What’s been happening to us, it’s not just the kids getting hurt, but also the parents. We are very stressed,” said the Carolina Casejo at the resumption of the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on Dengvaxia on Tuesday.
Casejo cited the alleged “harsh treatment” of a doctor who, she claimed, hit her child with papers the doctor had. The child had been taking pictures and was warned before he was hit.
“I feel so hurt . . . I felt humiliated with the other parents and Dengvaxia victims there,” said the mother who joined other parents whose children were inoculated with the vaccine in the hearing.
Casejo said she did not get the name of the doctor but had reported the incident to the director’s office of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) in Quezon City.
Dr. Mary Ann Bunyi, PCMC executive assistant, apologized and told her that the hospital has the name of the doctor who would face disciplinary action.
“We have the name of the doctor, and we will be talking to them and will be giving the proper disciplinary action,” Bunyi said.
Casejo also said that another PCMC doctor had diagnosed her child with Thalassemia, an inherited sickness of the blood that leads to anemia, but she remained adamant that Dengvaxia was the cause of the complications on her child’s health.
She said that her child developed cough and cold one and fever of 39.2 degrees Celsius one week after receiving the dengue vaccine.
Casejo showed a ledger where she claimed to have detailed the symptoms her child experienced.
“This is complete with what my child experiences every day. Every day I write them down, I count them,” she said.
She said her child also had experienced anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, three times from September to December.
She expressed her frustration over the lack of information on the waiver that she and other parents signed.
“The details were not complete in the waiver I signed,” Casejo said.
Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Richard Gordon said it was this insufficiency of information from concerned government sectors that was one of the major causes of the Dengvaxia controversy.
“Nadehado ang mga tao natin. Kung hindi sila masabihan ng maayos, mamamatay ang bata. Walang laban ang tao. Hindi nila alam eh. It is the lack of information that killed the children,” said Gordon who also announced that it would be the last hearing on the issue before making the committee report.
(Our people are on the losing end here. Because they were not informed properly, their children die. They lost without a fight. They do not know. It is the lack of information that killed the children.)
The blue ribbon committee chairman then brought up the “Patient’s Rights.”
“Karapatan ng mga pasyente na tinuturukan na mabigyan ng sapat na impormasyon,” said Gordon who also turned emotional.
(It is the right of the patients inoculated to be informed).
Parents of the children who were inoculated by the vaccine were also present, and became emotional as well when they knew that them being misinformed is one of the grim reasons of their children’s death.
Gordon said Dengvaxia manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and the Philippine government should be held responsible for the fiasco.
“A lot of people got sick violently, and even died, because they were not provided the right information by Sanofi, the government, and the people who are supposed to handle this,” said the senator.
Also present in the hearing were Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd, former Health secretary Paulyn Ubial; and Dr. Scott Halstead, a US-Based expert on tropical disease and leading scientist in the field of dengue research.
Duque said he requested for the use of government funds so that he may, among others, appoint a team of 500 nurses to serve as surveillance officers who would go around schools and communities to regularly monitor the state of Dengvaxia recipients.
He also proposed the development of an application that would keep parents informed about dengue symptoms and allow them to get assistance directly from the central office.
Duque also said he had tapped the Red Cross in several regions to help bring potential victims directly to hospitals.
Gordon also proposed that telephone companies contribute by giving emergency load to parents.
Duque said he was also considering distributing dengue testing kits to parents although Gordon criticized it, saying that parents should instead be advised to take their children directly to the hospital.
Health Undersecretary Enrique Domingo also said that the DoH was planning to collaborate with the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) to develop a reliable method of serotesting.
Earlier in the hearing, Halstead said that he warned Sanofi and the World Health Organization (WHO) about the risks of Dengvaxia in 2016.
Gordon said neighboring countries Malaysia and Singapore did not purchase Dengvaxia when it was offered to them.
“So this means nagpadalus-dalos tayo,” Gordon said.
(So this means that we were reckless).
At least three of the 14 reported fatalities were traced to Dengvaxia although further studies were needed, according to a study by the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH). ALEC NALDO, LANCE LIBRORANIA, MIA MACATIAG, GIO CATALASAN