By Mike Ssegawa
Recent news reports that several hospitals administered on hundreds of people a fake Hepatitis B vaccine, raise concerns.
But before we go there, Hepatitis B is a dangerous disease. And efforts to prevent and treat the illness by government and other medicals are commendable.
However, the development that fake vaccines were administered on an unknown number of people in the country should worry everyone since there are clear lapses in drug procurement policies, and medical regulations.
Before the government banned several private hospitals from offering this service, there was a mounted campaign to create fear in the disease which certainly is terrible. However, the amount publicity was proof there was a sponsor behind it and most probably the companies that import the vaccine. Their intention was just to create demand for the product.
Hepatitis B is a dangerous disease, fact. But there is no worrying epidemic in the country to warrant the massive campaign that has been in all media. And it is good the government has cleared only a few centres to administer the vaccine so that it is removed from the hands of profit making health entrepreneurs.
That said, I was rather disappointed by the comments of the health state minister state minister Sarah Opendi. Ms Opendi said the vaccine which has already been injected to human beings is “not harmful”. I would like her to come out to explain well to the country why she thinks so, and offer evidence to back up her conclusion.
Unless Opendi says citizens were vaccinated with water, but a report on Reuters news agency quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO) says “Tens of thousands dying from $30 billion fake drugs trade”.
The story says “one in 10 drugs sold in developing countries is fake”.
The fake hepatitis B vaccine must be part of this greed to sell fake or substandard products to unsuspecting, ignorant or equally complicit health managers, leading to tens of thousands of deaths.
WHO blamed the problem on increased pharmaceutical trade, including Internet sales.
When Opendi says fake drugs are not harmful, one wonders what she means; either she is deliberately lying to the public, she is ignorant about what she is talking about, or, she is hiding something. Fake drugs, can contain incorrect doses, wrong ingredients or no active ingredients at all. And without medical and scientific mechanisms to follow up on the victims of these vaccinations, we risk losing our people or ruining their lives.
I call upon the ministry of health and other health related pressure groups to follow up the people who received these fake vaccines for at least 10 years. Secondly, there should be clear regulation on vaccinations and who offers them in the country.
That is the only way we can medically protect our people from unwarranted diseases.