Former Department of Health (DOH) secretary Janette Garin blamed Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta for the increasing number of measles cases in the country.
The DOH recently declared an outbreak of measles, a highly contagious respiratory disease, in Western Visayas and four other regions.
Garin, in an interview over radio station Bombo Radyo-Iloilo, said Acosta is responsible for the outbreak, which was attributed by the DOH to the low turnout of children being vaccinated against measles caused by the “Dengvaxia scare.”
Acosta linked Dengvaxia, the world’s first dengue vaccine, to the deaths of at least 32 children.
Garin said Acosta’s “reckless and baseless” statements discouraged parents and guardians to have their children vaccinated.
The DOH, in a report by INQUIRER.NET, noted a 60 percent drop in the country’s vaccination coverage rate following the Dengvaxia controversy.
“Her claims, without scientific basis, hugely affected the government’s immunization programs,” Garin said.
For her part, Acosta said she shouldn’t be blamed for the outbreak.
“Galing lang ‘yan sa na-demanda, ginagamit nilang diversionary tactic ‘yung measles. Global ang measles outbreak,” she said in a report by ABS-CBN News.
“Hindi ko kasalan kung ang DOH nanguna na magturok ng isang experimental Dengvaxia, at hindi ako laban sa ibang bakuna,” she added.
In 2016, Garin implemented the use of Dengvaxia. More than 800,000 children were vaccinated.
But the health department suspended the P3.5-billion school-based dengue vaccination program after French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur issued an advisory that Dengvaxia could cause more severe cases of dengue if administered on a person who had not been previously infected by the virus.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered Acosta to lead investigation into alleged deaths due to Dengvaxia.IMT