Clinicians, physicians from the academe, presidents of professional organizations and former health officials called for "public welfare above all else" amid the Dengvaxia furor.

A statement signed by more than a hundred physicians practicing in different fields in the country, urged all parties involved in the controversy to put public welfare above all, while condemning public misinformation.

The physicians collectively lamented how the dengue vaccine controversy was turned into a fiasco where some of their colleagues have been systematically maligned.

More importantly, this resulted in parents losing their trust with public health programmes and refusing to give consent for any kind of vaccination.

“The unnecessary fear and panic, largely brought about by the imprudent language and unsubstantiated accusations by persons whose qualifications to render any expert opinion on the matter are questionable at best, have caused many parents to resist having their children avail of life saving vaccines that our government gives,” the physicians wrote in the statement.

Health Undersecretary Enrique Domingo, in a recent press conference, told parents that they - as well as their children - should live normally as much as possible.

The group also pointed out that some competent and dedicated physicians were “systematically maligned” while others remained silent throughout the controversy.

“The public hearings have become avenues for expert bashing rather than a genuine search for truth,” the group wrote, and asked public officials to hear both sides.

“The medical and scientific community must weigh the risks of any vaccine against its benefits; the potential to save lives against the two possible adverse effects. Science is also not static. When new findings are known, recommendations change,” it emphasized.

The group said they supported the DOH’s decision to suspend the dengue vaccination programme until there is quick and cost-effective way to determine if the supposed receiver had dengue or not.

One of the signatories is Dr Esperanza Cabral, former Secretary of Health.

“We urge our colleagues in the medical profession to consider the greater good in all their statements and actions and to refrain from making premature conclusions based on insufficient data,” the group urged. MIMS