DOH, ‘disheartened’ by Paquiao’s corruption claims; ready to show vaccine loans report

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 30, 2021   •   669

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III on Tuesday (June 29) said he was ‘disheartened’ by the corruption allegations of Senator Manny Pacquiao.

Duque reiterated in a statement that the department is always transparent and cooperative to auditing efforts of the government.

He also said that the DOH already submitted the vaccine loan reports to the Department of Finance (DOF) and during the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing.

However, Duque said the department is ready to undergo another auditing and inquiries from legislators to show where the vaccine loans went.

“While we are disheartened by these baseless accusations from our government officials, we submit ourselves to inquiries from legislators as this is a part of the checks and balances in our government,” he said.

“Kung ang tanong ay kung handa kaming ipakita kung saan napunta ang pondo, handang handa po kami (If the question is if we are prepared to show where the funds went, we are ready). We submit reports to concerned government agencies and even the Senate,” he added.

Duque also stated that the loaned funds directly went to vaccine manufacturers and did not go through the health department.

“Ang inutang na pondo ay diretsong napupunta sa vaccine manufacturer mula sa funding agency. Hindi po dumadaan sa DOH o maski na sa gobyerno ang pera mula sa mga funding agencies,” he said.

(The loaned vaccines from funding agencies directly went to the vaccine manufacturers. The money from funding agencies did not go through the DOH or in any government agencies)

The statement came after Pacquiao named the DOH as the first government agency to be looked into as to where the vaccine loans which were supposed to procure personal protective equipment (PPEs) and other medical equipment have gone to.

“Magsimula tayo sa DOH. Silipin at busisiin natin lahat ng mga binili mula sa rapid test kits, PPE , masks at iba pa. Handa ka ba Sec. Francisco Duque na ipakita ang kabuuan ng iyong ginagastos? Saan napunta ang pera na inutang natin para sa pandemya?”  Pacquiao asked.

(Let us start with the DOH. We should review all the procured items from rapid test kits, PPEs, masks, and others. Is Secretary Francisco Duque prepared to show everything? What happened to the money we borrowed for the pandemic?)

Duque also said that the DOH rationally used its funds to continuously implement the Universal Health Care Law and ensure unhampered delivery of health services while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the DOH said that it signed a Manifesto of Pledge of Cooperation and Oath of Honesty for Project KASANGGA with the Presidential Anti-Corruption Council (PACC) on April 30.

Under Project KASANGGA, government agencies commit to reducing corruption incidents through swift detection, prosecution, and resolution of graft and corruption cases within their department. AAC

Delta Plus sub-variant not yet detected in the Philippines – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   October 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Delta Plus sublineage (AY.4.2) of COVID-19 Delta variant (B.1.617.2) has not yet been detected in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

In a statement, the DOH said its biosurveillance activities has been closely monitoring 46 sublineages of the Delta variant, and so far has not detected the AY.4.2 sub-variant.

The DOH issued the statement following reports on the increasing case of sublinage AY.4.2 in the United Kingdom (UK) and its detection in other countries.

“As of this moment, experts are still studying the potential impact of the Delta sublineage on the transmissibility and severity of COVID-19. The particular Delta sublineage has not yet been detected among the COVID-19 positive samples sequenced in the country,” the department said.

Delta variant has been listed by the World Health Organization as a variant of concern but its subtypes are not.

Health experts in the UK have earlier reported that the AY.4.2 may be 10% more transmissible than its parent variant.

The Delta Plus subtype is a mutation of the original Delta variant. Its behavior, severity, and transmission frequency are still being monitored.

But whatever the variant that may appear, the DOH stressed that mutations occur as part of the natural process of virus evolution.

It reminded the public to be vigilant and continue adhering to health protocols, adding that all COVID-19 cases should be managed similarly and as per current quarantine protocols.

“Each case must be immediately isolated and contact traced upon detection. Current evidence also showed that the presence or absence of a variant of interest or concern among cases do not dictate the appropriate clinical management,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire.

“We should always remain vigilant against COVID-19, moreso that we are safely reopening our economy,” she added.

The DOH also reminded the public that, while variants may contribute to increase or aggravate COVID-19 cases, strict and proper adherence to the minimum public health standards reduces the risk of getting exposed to COVID-19.

It also reiterated its call on the public to get vaccinated for additional protection against COVID-19.

“Our proper adherence to the minimum public health standards is still our best protection and is the best way to curb the transmission, prevent the spread of the variants and slow down the appearance of mutations,” Vergeire said.

“Getting fully-vaccinated is also another layer of protection that can help us from getting severe COVID-19,” she added.

Phase 2 ng COVID-19 pediatric vaccination, sisimulan sa Biyernes – NVOC

Robie de Guzman   •   October 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Inihahanda na ng National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) ang lahat ng kailangan para sa pagsisimula ng phase 2 ng pagbabakuna sa mga batang may edad 12 hanggang 17 na may co-morbidities.

Ayon kay Dr. Kezia Rosario ng NVOC, magsisimula ang phase 2 ng pediatric vaccination sa Biyernes, Oct. 22.

Aniya, kabilang sa mga gagawing vaccination site ang mga non-hospital facility na inirekomenda ng local government units.

“We allowed several local governments after inspection. Nag-inspect po iyong NVOC at saka iyong CHDMM [Center for Health Development Metro Manila] ‘no, ng mga vaccination sites na ito,” ani Rosario.

Sa kabuuan, magiging 23 na ang vaccination site para sa COVID-19 pediatric vaccination kabilang ang walong ospital na kasalukuyang pinagdarausan ng pagbabakuna.

“Each of the local government units naman po ng National Capital Region has already prepared ng kanilang vaccination site using iyong hospital as a vaccination site. We had din na mga LGUs due to limitation ng spaces ng hospital have negotiated with us to use several of their nearby facilities as vaccination sites,” ani Rosario.

Wala pang inilalabas na listahan ng mga gagamiting vaccination site para sa Biyernes.

May basbas ng Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) ang desisyong gawin ang pediatric vaccination sa non-hospital venue.

“I believe tama rin yung mga LGU atleast hindi congested sa mga ospital at the same time yun transmission magkakaroon tayo ng medyo small ang probability ang transmission,” ani vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.

Samantala, tiniyak naman ng NVOC na sapat ang supply ng bakunang magagamit para sa pagbabakuna sa mga bata.

Batay sa tala ng Department of Health (DOH) as of Oct. 19, nasa 3,416 na ang bilang ng mga 12 to 17-year old na nakatanggap ng first dose ng COVID-19 vaccines.

Una nang sinabi ng DOH na apat na bata ang napaulat na nakaranas ng adverse effects pagkatapos mabakunahan gaya ng allergic reaction ngunit lahat naman ay nasa maayos na kondisyon.

Over 20 million COVID-19 vaccine jabs procured through ADB loan – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   October 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More than 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been procured by the Philippine government through a loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Department of Health (DOH) said.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the DOH said that the ADB has recognized its accomplishment on the utilization of its loan under the latter’s financing project called Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit (HEAL) COVID-19 project.

The DOH said it received a rating of excellent progress in the recently concluded HEAL 1 Review Mission and HEAL 2 Inception Mission after recording over 70 percent obligation rate of its USD 825 million total loan budget intended for COVID-19 vaccine procurement and its ancillaries, equipment, infrastructure, and training.

The agency quoted in its statement Sakiko Tanaka, ADB Principal Social Sector Specialist, who said: “Within the implementation of the ADB Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 (HEAL) project, approximately 21.58 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been financed through ADB and delivered to the Philippines, and of this, 6.3 million doses have been given to priority populations as of August 2021.”

Tanaka also mentioned other achievements of the project including the procurement and delivery of 70 patient transport vehicles for contact tracing, 90 mechanical ventilators, and 85 portable x-ray machines to aid patient recovery in target Local Government Units (LGUs) and DOH-owned hospitals.

“Despite the challenges, civil works, and procurement of other medical supplies and laboratory equipment are moving forward and will be completed as planned,” she added.

The DOH said the HEAL project aims to assist the Philippines in scaling up its COVID-19 response, by providing medical equipment and supplies to health facilities that treat COVID-19 cases, and establishing pandemic subnational reference laboratories and isolation wards to strengthen testing capacity, surveillance and infection prevention and control.

The project also seeks to provide timely financing for safe and effective vaccine procurement and logistics, it added.

“I would like to thank the ADB and the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank for guiding us in this journey of a very big loan,” said DOH Undersecretary Mario Villaverde.



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