Duque warns Cavite hospitals over refusal to treat Dengvaxia case

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III sternly warned 4 hospitals in Cavite that reportedly refused to treat a child who received the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine.

The DOH chief himself will visit the following hospitals on Wednesday afternoon, March 21 to determine why they did not treat the child:

"I'm going there to personally warn them, if not file a case against them. 'Di puwede ‘yon (What they did was unacceptable)," said a stony-faced Duque on the sidelines of the turnover to the DOH of tuberculosis technical assistance packages by the United States Agency for International Development, and the Philippine Business for Social Progress.

Duque said the hospitals did not attend to the child's medical needs even after public and private hospitals committed to set up dengue fast lanes that will prioritize the treatment of symptoms exhibited by vaccinated children.

Duque said he may file a case against the hospitals if their explanation for refusing to treat the child is unsatisfactory.

The kid's specific sickness, however, remains unclear as of posting time. (READ: What to do if your child received dengue vaccine

DLSUMC clarification

In a letter to Rappler on March 27 – a week after Duque's visit – DLSUMC made a clarification that it, in fact, attended to the patient, and that the health secretary and his team were briefed about this during his visit on March 21, hours after he held the press conference.

“The patient was given due treatment and medical care at our Emergency Room, as it is our strict protocol to provide the necessary medical care to patients who are brought to us, especially emergency cases,” said Dr Roberto Espos Jr, vice chancellor for hospital operations of DLSUMC. 

"During his visit here on March 21, Secretry Duque and his team heard from our medical team how we provided such care to the said patient. In fact, the DOH team commended our efforts to treat the patient and the fast lane that we have set up for patients who have been vaccinated with Dengvaxia," he added.  

DOH has yet to share with media the outcome of its talks with the Cavite hospitals.

Against the law 


During his earlier press conference, Duque said it is against the law for hospitals to demand deposits from patients in emergency situations. (READ: Hospitals demanding deposits in emergencies face stiffer penalties)

"You're not supposed to be asking for deposits. That's in the warranties of the PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corporation) accreditation," Duque said.

He added: “You're not supposed to reject emergency cases. No matter how full your hospital is, you have to accept and stabilize the patient before you can transfer them to another hospital that has the space or the accommodations."

Duque immediately suspended the school-based dengue immunization program after risks of Sanofi Pasteur's Dengvaxia dengue vaccine were revealed in November 2017. (READ: TIMELINE: Dengue immunization program for public school students)

The DOH is now conducting a 5-year heightened health surveillance of all the vaccinated children. Duque has also been busy holding dialogues with parents of the vaccinated children, as well as inspecting the services of dengue fast lanes in hospitals nationwide. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.