By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
The chair of the House appropriations committee on Monday appealed to members of the Senate to hasten teh approval of the proposed Php 1.161 billion supplemental budget for Dengvaxia victims.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles said he was hoping that the Senate would pass its version before Congress takes a break on Thursday.
“Before mag-recess ang Congress sa Thursday sana naman po maipasa na ng Senado yung supplemental budget (for Dengvaxia),” Nograles said.
Nograles said the Department of Health (DOH) has started patient check-ups and field work in communities where children were vaccinated with Dengvaxia. He said the supplemental budget was needed so that the agency ” doesn’t need to tap other medical service funds not exclusively allocated for such purpose.”
The House of Representatives unanimously approved House Bill (HB) No. 7449 last May, a measure which allocated the Php 1.161 billion fund as medical assistance to Dengvaxia vaccine recipients.
An equivalent bill is under the period of interpellation at the Senate.
The supplemental fund represents partial reimbursement made to the Philippine government through the DOH by French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur, makers of the controversial anti-dengue drug.
“Sa supplemental budget, naglaan po tayo ng pera diyan para mag-profiling po at puntahan ng mga DOH officials at nurses natin ang mga biktima ng dengvaxia para kumustahin sila, gawan ng base line study at medical profile. Importante pong maipasa yan para masimulan na po especially since dengue season po ngayon,” Nograles said.
Nograles expressed concern that with the absence of the supplemental budget, the DOH might be forced to utilize a portion of its existing 2018 budget to assist Dengvaxia victims who continue to get hospitalized.
“We don’t want the DOH to overstretch its funding, that’s why we urge the Senate to consider the plight of close to a million schoolchildren who are affected by the Dengvaxia vaccine,” the lawmaker said.