By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito welcomed the proposal to tap a third-party forensic pathologist to examine the bodies of children who were alleged to have died due to Dengvaxia.
“That’s a good suggestion,” he told reporters when asked to comment during the sidelines of a Senate hearing in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi yesterday.
Ejercito, who chairs the Senate committee on health and demography, said allowing a foreign forensic pathologist to look into the deaths of those who received doses of the anti-dengue vaccine will “allay doubts” over the probe on the effect of the government’s botched immunization program.
This will also settle the dispute between the Department of Health (DOH) and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), he added.
Ejercito said he believes that the DOH is the “proper agency” to look for a foreign expert as he maintained that the DOH should lead the investigation.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre had raised the need for a foreign forensic pathologist to study the deaths of those who were administered with Dengvaxia.
The DOH has been urging the PAO to share with them the latter’s autopsy findings to be able to cross-check it against the results of the review made by experts from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital.
The PAO, however, is reluctant in cooperating with medical experts due to the cases it filed against former and current DOH officials over the Dengvaxia mess.
The UP-PGH’s review found that only three of the 14 children autopsied by the PAO died of dengue. Doctors have yet to determine if the deaths of two of the three were caused by the vaccine’s failure.
Ejercito also reiterated the said agencies should work together in building up an air-tight case against Sanofi Pasteur, the manufacturer of Dengvaxia.
PAO officials have also been subpoenaed to attend the next Senate hearing on the Dengvaxia mess.