'Truth is on our side, my conscience is clear': Garin

By Leilani Junio

April 16, 2018, 6:08 pm

MANILA -- Former Health Secretary Janette Garin on Monday said she believes she and others implicated in the Dengvaxia controversy would be cleared of the accusations hurled against them in the draft report by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that investigated the 2016 vaccine program.

"I still believe that we can be vindicated. Why? Because the truth is on our side and my conscience is clear," Garin told a media forum in Manila.

She said she remains firm that what she and government health officials did during the implementation of the immunization program in 2016 was to respond to the dengue that time.

Garin also claimed that some individuals that have a gripe against her appointment as Department of Health (DOH) Secretary might have misinformed Blue Ribbon Committee chairperson, Senator Richard Gordon, on the Dengvaxia vaccination program.

In the draft report of the Senate panel, Garin, former President Benigno Aquino III, and former Budget Secretary Butch Abad were considered as "primary conspirators" in the controversial vaccination program. The Senate draft report also recommended filing of charges against the three former government executives for the Dengvaxia mess.

Meanwhile, Garin said the report of the World Health Organization- Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (WHO-SAGE) on Immunization would explain why the DOH implemented the mass dengue immunization program in 2016.

Garin said many of the questions about Dengvaxia program can be answered by the international vaccine and infectious disease experts.

"I don't want to preempt SAGE and WHO report. Let them come out with the report," she said.

Earlier, WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Gundo Weiler disclosed that SAGE will release a report and recommendation on the Dengvaxia vaccine.

"We respect that but let us go back as to who really the experts recognized by WHO, and that is SAGE," she said, noting that WHO tapped SAGE last December to assess the disclosure by Sanofi Pasteur, the maker of Dengvaxia dengue vaccine.

She said that if there was a problem with the Dengvaxia vaccine, which could have adverse side effects or even cause death to a recipient, the WHO should have initiated the pullout of the vaccine when it was being administered in 2016. (PNA)