House sets probe into DOH purchase of ‘weaker’ anti-pneumonia for after nCoV crisis

Published February 6, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives is eyeing an investigation into the Department of Health’s (DOH) decision to choose a “weaker” anti-pneumonia vaccine for its P4.9 billion vaccination program for children.

House of the Representatives (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN / FILE PHOTO)
House of the Representatives (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN / FILE PHOTO)

Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, chairman of the House committee on public accounts, said a congressional inquiry may be conducted soon to determine whether or not there was anomaly in the DOH decision.

It was reported that the DOH dropped its current choice of anti-pneumonia vaccine and chose a “weaker” vaccine for its nationwide vaccination program.

The DOH reportedly decided to suspend the bidding for the purchase of PCV 13 vaccine and opted to invite suppliers to offer bids for PCV-10.

Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, former DOH secretary, assailed the health department’s decision, saying it has been using PCV-13, which protects children from 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria, since 2014. PCV-10, on the other hand, covers only 10 types of bacteria.

Garin said purchasing PCV-10 is a “step backward” because it has less efficacy in preventing pneumonia among children aged five and below in the country, likening it to “getting a Betamax when you’re already using a VHS player.”

The lawmaker said that PCV-13 is more effective in preventing pneumonia as it covers more bacteria as compared to PCV-10.

Defensor said his committee “will eventually investigate the efficacy of PCV10 vis-a-vis PCV13. “There are models all over the world. I hope the DOH can justify their stand.”

Defensor said the congressional inquiry will be conducted at a later date, as soon as the nCoV crisis is over. “We don’t want to take away the focus of DOH now in containing the spread of nCoV (2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease).”

Still, Defensor said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III would have to eventually prepare himself to face the inquiry into the issue involving the pneumonia vaccine for children.

Last week, Deputy Minority Leader Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin raised questions on the decision of DOH to suspend the bidding for PCV-13 vaccine and allow a bidder offering PCV-10.