CONCERNED stakeholders have urged the Department of Health (DOH) to make the bidding for pediatric vaccines competitive and not just limit it to one bidder.
The stakeholders stressed that an open and competitive bidding can save millions of pesos that can be used for other life-saving health initiatives by the DOH.
This developed as the DOH conducted an early competitive bidding on vaccines for children two months earlier than it has done for the last three years.
The early competitive bidding is DOH’s response to the urgent need to address vaccine-preventable diseases and the current outbreaks happening across the country.
In relation to this, some P4.9 billion was devoted to a vaccine for pneumococcal diseases, the biggest vaccine-preventable cause of death in children under five.
However, unlike the other pediatric vaccines, the DOH has reportedly excluded other possible competitors from the bidding for the pneumococcal vaccine.
In a position paper published in February 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the inclusion of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) in childhood immunization programs worldwide.
According to the position paper, both PCVs currently available in the market have been shown to be safe and effective and to have both direct and indirect effects against pneumococcal disease.
The position paper also states that there is at present insufficient evidence of a difference in the net impact of both PCVs on overall disease burden.
In other words, both PCVs have comparable effectiveness in protecting children from overall pneumococcal disease.
Pneumococcal infections can lead to serious invasive diseases such as meningitis, septicaemia and pneumonia, as well as milder but more common illnesses such as sinusitis and otitis media.
Of the estimated 5.83 million deaths among children five years of age globally in 2015, 294 000 were estimated to have been caused by pneumococcal infections.