MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) sitting en banc on Wednesday, January 10, ordered the Department of Health (DOH) to answer the petition seeking to compel the government to provide free medicine and hospitalization to children administered with dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
"The Court directed respondents to comment on the petition for mandamus within a period of ten (10) days from notice," SC Spokesman Theodore Te said in a news conference on Wednesday.
Gabriela party list, together with families of vaccinated children, filed a petition before the High Court on December 22, requesting the SC to require the DOH to adopt a policy of free medical services for children who got the Dengvaxia vaccine.
“These free medical services shall continue until it would have been determined and declared by competent and medical and/or scientific experts that the threat/s brought about by the Dengvaxia vaccine have been minimized or eliminated,” the petition stated.
The petitioners want more than just monetary compensation, as earlier reported, following Sanofi Pasteur’s disclosure that Dengvaxia could lead to more severe dengue symptoms for children with no previous dengue infection prior to vaccination.
The petitioners also want the DOH to conduct further studies and review of the safety and efficacy of Dengvaxia.
The respondents named in the petition include Health Secretary Francisco Duque III; Education Secretary Leonor Briones; DILG officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy; Lyndon Lee Suy, program director of the DOH-National Center for Disease Prevention and Control; and Food and Drug Administration Director General Nela Charade Puno.
The Public Attorneys Office (PAO), which is conducting forensic examinations on children who died after getting Dengvaxia, said its initial findings reveal that the deaths can be linked to the vaccine. The DOH has tapped an independent panel to conduct the validate the alleged Dengvaxia-caused deaths.
An estimated 830,000 Filipino children in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and Cebu received Dengvaxia under the government's mass immunization program.
Gabriela filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman seeking to hold government officials criminally accountable, including former president Benigno Aquino III, former health secretary Janette Garin, former budget secretary Florencio Abad, and former executive secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. – Rappler.com