Swine flu vaccines go waste in Pakistan

Saturday, January 22, 2011

ISLAMABAD - District health officials in Pakistan are “not very keen” to use swine flu vaccines donated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), thus resulting in the country’s failure to control the disease, the WHO has said.

In March 2010, about 3.1 million doses of Monovalent Influenza vaccine were given to Pakistan’s health ministry for distribution in the provinces.

The vaccine was donated by the WHO and funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Express Tribune reported Saturday.

“The vaccine reached the districts but executive district officers (EDOs) were not keen on using it,” said WHO consultant Arif Zaka.

“An effective utilisation of the vaccine would have resulted in fewer cases of swine flu in the country,” he was quoted as saying.

National Influenza Control Programme manager Baseer Khan Achakzai, however, said the vaccine was sent to the provinces during the outbreak of the disease in August- September 2010 and was effectively employed by all concerned districts.

Five deaths from swine flu have so far been reported, two from Rawalpindi and one each from Islamabad, Sahiwal and Gujar Khan, according to the ministry of health.

Achakzai added that one of the major reasons behind the outbreak in Pakistan was the malfunctioning of thermal scanners installed at airports to check people for signs and symptons of the flu.

However, Islamabad airport health officer Irfan Tahir denied reports of any malfunction.

Filed under: India, Medicine, Pakistan, Swine Flu, World

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