Cayetano, like Duterte, is willing to wait for health experts’ advice on use of Dengvaxia

Published August 9, 2019, 3:57 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Pia Cayetano on Friday said she was supporting President Rodrigo Duterte’s stand that government officials should wait for the opinion of local health experts on proposals to use the Dengvaxia vaccines in the Philippines again before making any further comments.

Senator Pia S. Cayetano (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Pia S. Cayetano (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

“This is a technical and scientific matter that should be left to the health experts. The President [already] said he’s listening to them, so let’s give this time,” Cayetano said in a televised interview.

Some politicians have renewed calls to revive the implementation of the government’s botched school-based anti-dengue immunization program using the Dengvaxia medicines despite the controversy hounding the vaccines’ efficacy, to stamp out the dengue epidemic in the country.

“Let’s listen to experts. Sana po huwag muna tayong mag-comment… Kasi litong-lito na ang mga tao,” the senator appealed.

While the issue on Dengvaxia’s revival is yet to be decided on by public health specialists, Cayetano said government officials should focus on discussing policies that will provide Filipino families better access to health services.

“Sana po ang mga politicians, we just discuss policies. Our policy is we want to ensure the safety of the Filipino people. We want to ensure that they have access to (appropriate healthcare services). The poor should also have access to whatever is available to the rich,” she stressed.

In particular, Cayetano said policymakers should give proper attention addressing the problem of stunted growth among Filipino kids.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier stated that one in three children in the country remains stunted, a figure, which has not improved in the last 15 years.

“We must go back to the health basics. Those should be the concerns that we have. That’s part of our job, to ensure that the poorest of the poor are covered (by our health budget) and that these children become healthier,” she noted.

She said this should be the focus of lawmakers as addressing malnutrition would help children fight the dengue illness.

“When they are malnourished or do not have the proper vaccinations, they are more susceptible to diseases,” she stressed.

Read more: Duterte open to using Dengvaxia anew