SENATOR Richard J. Gordon yesterday called on the public not to fear the Department of Health’s Expanded Program on Immunization or EPI.
Gordon made the call in the wake of growing public fear of vaccines – with more and more parents refusing to avail of the DOH’s various vaccination programs, following the Dengvaxia mess.
“Vaccines included in the DOH’s EPI are safe. These vaccines have been tried and tested and they must be given to your children so they would not contract the diseases that the department’s programs are trying to prevent. I understand the fear triggered by the Dengvaxia mess but we should not let our fears cloud our better judgement. Avoid Dengvaxia; but let your children be inoculated with the other vaccines,” Gordon said.
Vaccines included in the health department’s EPI prevent diseases such as measles. mumps, polio, hepatitis B, rubella, pertussis, diphtheria, pneumonia, and tetanus.
Gordon said the DOH should act swiftly to allay unfounded concerns and restore public confidence on the government’s healthcare programs.
“The DOH should really ensure strict monitoring of the people who received Dengvaxia shots and come to their assistance promptly should they show signs of getting sick in order to restore public confidence in the DOH. Live up to your mandate of being the guardian of the people’s health,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gordon underscored the need for the Philippines to build its own capability for disease control and research to safeguard the peoples’ health.
During Tuesday’s hearing of the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers & Investigations or Blue Ribbon, medical experts also confirmed that due to the country’s incapability, some of the tests needed to be done on the tissue samples from the exhumed remains of children, who were inoculated with Dengvaxia, have to be done abroad.
“What we need to do is to have our own capability. We have to establish our own capability. Hindi pwedeng aasa tayo sa iba. Maglagay tayo ng CDC (Center for Disease Control), yung research institute natin i-upgrade. Dapat hindi tayo nangongopya. Matuto tayo on our own,” the Blue Ribbon committee chairman said.
Gordon noted that the Philippines should follow what Japan did when it realized that the armament and technology of Western countries far outclassed theirs. They sent Japanese experts to various Western nations to study new techniques and technology. When they returned to Japan, they started applying and improving what they have learned and came up with their own products until they became the third largest economic entity in the world.
“Ang dami nating magagaling na mga doctor. Kung kulang tayo sa mga gamit, the DOH (Department of Health) should tell us, ‘we will build our own CDC and these are the equipment that we will need.’ Pupunan namin yan. We have to put money where our mouth is. We have to start thinking lofty things. The Japanese did it,” the senator said.
“Even for our military, sinasabi ko yan. But this is also especially needed in health. Apart from education, health is the most important aspect. Kailangan ma-proteksyunan natin ng maayos ang kalusugan ng mga tao,” Gordon said.