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Ex-DOH Sec. Garin: No realignment of funds for Dengvaxia procurement

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 26) — Former Department of Health (DOH) chief and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said no public funds were realigned for the implementation of the controversial dengue immunization program in public schools during the Aquino administration.

The Ombudsman has filed graft and technical malversation charges against Garin and four others. They were allegedly responsible for the release of ₱3.57 billion for the purchase of Dengvaxia vaccines despite it not being part of the expanded program for immunization.

Speaking to CNN Philippines’The Source on Thursday, Garin denied that realignment was done, saying the budget for the vaccine rollout came from miscellaneous personnel benefits funds (MPBF) under the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“Internally in the Department of Health we did not have any realignment because the MPBF is a lump sum fund that comes from the Department of Budget and Management,” she said, adding that such funds can be used to augment any program that needs additional allocation.

Garin also pointed out that in the DOH, the immunization program is a line item that covers all vaccines for children, pregnant women, senior citizens, and those that will be developed in a year. Specific vaccines are not listed in the budget to give the department flexibility during situations like an outbreak of a viral disease, she added.

Over 800,000 grade schoolers had already been vaccinated when pharmaceutical company Sanofi announced that Dengvaxia could cause severe dengue if the vaccinee had not been infected by the virus before immunization.

Garin said the issue of the dengue vaccine did not only affect the Philippines, but also other countries.

“In this case it's very clear, dengue has no cure, dengue kills, the Philippines is the exporter of dengue throughout the whole world, mutations are constantly happening in the Philippines,” she said.

Garin said it was supposed to be the country’s “global responsibility to help solve this problem.” Now, the Philippines has been a laughing stock because it is the only country that stopped the immunization program without scientific basis, she added.

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