Ex-DOH chief, Rep. Garin warns vs use of Quick Response Fund to buy dengue kits

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin warned Tuesday against the tapping of government's Quick Response Fund (QRF) to purchase dengue kits, saying that it is "useless" and "a source of corruption."

Former Health Secretary Janette Garin gestures during the Inquiry into the implementation of the DOH Health Facilities Enhancement Program including the alleged irregularities in the Barangay Health Stations Project in Pasay city, July 4, 2018. (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN) Iloilo 1st district Rep. Janette Garin

She made the stern warning, as the Department of Health declared a national dengue epidemic to enable local government units to tap the QRF to "address the epidemic situation."

"We call on Sec Duque not to allow the use of the Quick Response Fund for the purchase of Dengue Kits. Just like barangay tanod kits, these are usless and a source of corruption," the former Health Secretary said in a statement.

Duque made such declaration, citing that 622 people had been killed by the mosquito-borne disease from January to July 20 this year.

He also noted 146,062 cases had been recorded from January to July 20 this year, or 98 percent higher than the number of cases recorded in the same period in 2018.

Garin also took the opportunity to hail the DOH's for "accepting and acknowleding the problem."

"We further appeal that the Secretary and his Spokesperson weigh opinion and input from real experts vis a vis naturalists. That way they will not be confused," she said.

Garin earlier thanked Malacañang for its openness to make the Dengvaxia vaccine available again in the market.

She said the government could tap the experts from other countries to address the nationwide surge of the mosquito-borne disease.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier said the government is "open to anything that will benefit the Filipino people."

He said if there are findings that would support the dengvaxia's effectivity and safety and the vaccine would benefit the people, "then certainly the government should consider it."

Garin said the nationwide surge of dengue cases could have been prevented had the government continued the immunisation program against the mosquito-borne disease.

She noted that the dengue outbreaks have been long predicted, citing that in 2010, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared dengue as a disease of pandemic potential, classified as a public health emergency.

"In 2012, guidelines were released citing the need to introduce other modalities since two decades of 4S strategy has not reduced dengue. Estimating the true burden of dengue was a priority together with vaccine implementation on top of the 4S,” Garin, who is facing complaints over the Dengvaxia fiasco, said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque declared on July 15 a National Dengue Alert following the dengue outbreak.

READ MORE: DOH declares national dengue epidemic