THE Department of Health should find a way to provide health assistance to the thousands of school children victimized by the Dengvaxia vaccine even if Congress has not yet passed the proposed measure appropriating P1.16-billion supplemental budget for the victims, Sen. Loren Legarda said on Sunday.
Legarda, who heads the Senate Committee on Finance insisted that the Department of Health (DOH) has enough budget to provide medical help to more than 800,000 Dengvaxia recipients.
“The DOH has funds, government should never be helpless in helping the people,” said Legarda in an interview aired over dzBB.
The Senate was supposed to pass the proposed P1.16 Dengvaxia assistance fund last Wednesday during the last session before adjourning sine die, but failed to take it up because there was no quorum.
The proposed supplemental fund will come from the partial refund from unused anti-dengue vaccines of Sanofi Pasteur, the French pharmaceutical company that manufactures Dengvaxia.
“So I will request Health Secretary (Francisco) Duque 3rd, that they begin assisting the victims since the fund will surely come on July 23. I’m sure DOH has contingency fund,” the Senate finance committee chair added.
She insisted that it should be done in accordance with Commission on Audit (COA) rules and regulations to make sure that the victims of Dengvaxia would receive the needed help without any issue.
“The worst scenario is they (victims) will be helped by third week of July, the best scenario is they can be helped right away. We will find a way,” Legarda added.
The finance committee chairperson at the same time vowed to immediately tackle the proposed Dengvaxia assistance fund measure when session resumes on July 23.
“I will immediately push for the agenda, for sponsorship and then I hope there will not be too many interpellations,” she added.
Legarda said she was ready to sponsor and defend the bill in plenary last week during the session even knowing that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was the priority that day but because there was no quorum and there was no chance for her to tackle it.
The proposed Dengvaxia assistance fund is expected to be passed on third and final reading on July 23, along with the ratification of the bicameral conference committee report on the BBL durign the morning session so that it would be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte when he delivers his third State of the Nation Address. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA