WHO: No complaint over vaccine
MANILA, Philippines—The World Health Organization (WHO) has denied that it filed a complaint regarding the controversial purchase of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) by the Department of Health, clarifying that it merely provided assessments based on the DOH’s request, the Inquirer learned on Friday.
“WHO did not file a complaint. WHO has provided assessments to the DOH in response to requests and these assessments are with the government,” according to the WHO statement released on Twitter dated Nov. 20.
The WHO made the clarification to counter news reports that the organization was one of the agencies that filed a complaint with President Benigno Aquino III over the DOH’s purchase of the PCV 10 vaccine for its Expanded Program on Immunization, instead of the supposedly more cost-efficient PCV 13.
The WHO said the investigation of the case being conducted by the National Bureau Investigation “is a matter for the government of the Philippines. WHO Philippines does not comment on any government investigation.”
The NBI is investigating the alleged irregularities in the purchase of antipneumonia vaccines in 2012 that allegedly involved Health Secretary Enrique Ona and Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier said the investigation stemmed from a complaint filed directly in the Office of the President by the National Center for Pharmaceutical Access and Management, the Formulatory Executive Council and the WHO over the purchase of the vaccine.
According to De Lima, the DOH had bought the PCV 10 vaccine contrary to the recommendation of the National Center for Pharmaceutical Access and Management, the Formulatory Executive Council and the WHO to purchase the PCV 13.
De Lima, citing the complaint, said the DOH bids and awards committee had already prepared for and cleared the procurement of PCV 13 and a certificate of provisional exemption was obtained for the vaccine as required by law.
“But all of a sudden, as alleged, the procurement of PCV 10 was instead ordered by Assistant Secretary Tayag. It also appears that Secretary Ona issued a certificate of exemption for [PCV 10] instead of the cost-effective PCV 13, that is why the relevant bodies complained.”
De Lima said the NBI investigating team has encountered informants who were “hesitant to execute anything.”
She said she did not think Ona or Tayag had given statements to the NBI. But she said Ona or Tayag probably knew about the discreet investigation since the NBI team had gone to the DOH to ask for documents.
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