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Blame over measles outbreak ‘unfair’: PAO chief

CHIEF PUBLIC Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta on Wednesday described as “unfair” the criticisms hurled against her and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) over the measles outbreak in Metro Manila.

“Huwag po nilang isisi sa PAO (Don’t put the blame on PAO),” the official told reporters during an interview at the Manila Hotel.

“Paano naman kami ang magiging may kasalanan sa measles problem natin ngayonmandato ng DOH (Department of Health) na mangampanya ng mga subok na bakuna. Ang PAO, ‘di po kontra sa mga subok na bakuna. Wala po tayong ibang bakuna na pinag-uusapan kundi Dengvaxia lang (How can we be responsible for the measles problem today? It is the mandate of the DOH to campaign for proven immunization. We’re not against any tested vaccination. Our only concern here is Dengvaxia),” she added.

Acosta has been accused of grandstanding on the Dengvaxia controversy after French manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur issued a global advisory, warning the public over risks of administering the vaccine to persons with no history of the disease.

Relating this to the recently declared measles outbreak, the public was quick to drag Acosta’s name for allegedly influencing general perception about vaccination.

But whether or not the Dengvaxia mess has a direct link to the low turnout on immunization, Acosta said, “Hindi po kami ang gumawa ng scare, Sanofi po ang nagpa-press conference noong November 29, 2017 na ‘di puwede sa ‘di pa na-dengue (ang nabakunahan ng Dengvaxia). Nabakunahan na nila, so sino pong gumawa ng scare, PAO? (We did not create the scare. It was Sanofi who organized a press conference on November 29, 2017, saying that Dengvaxia cannot be administered to those without history of the disease. The vaccine was already given. So did PAO create the scare?)”

“Hindi po kami ang nagdulot niyan, hindi po kami ang nagturok ng mass vaccination (We did not cause that. We are not the ones who administered the mass vaccination),” she also said.

The PAO has been filing cases against several former and incumbent government officials in connection with the aborted Dengvaxia program. Citing forensic exam results, the PAO said the anti-dengue vaccine resulted in the deaths of several children.

The DOH Epidemiology Bureau (DOH EB) reported that the number of measles cases in the National Capital Region already reached 196 from January 1 to 19. This is much higher than the 20 cases recorded during the same period in 2018.

In 2018, the DOH EB recorded 3,646 measles cases in the region against 351 cases in 2017. (Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)

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