`Why we’re not stockpiling Meningitis vaccine’
There is a discernible absence of the CSM vaccine in public health institutions across many states in the South West Zone and Kwara, a survey by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) has revealed.
NAN gathered from health authorities that this may not be unconnected with the fact that there had not been any major outbreak of the disease in the zone.
In Ibadan, the Oyo State Commissioner for Health, Dr Azeez Adeduntan, confirmed that the state had no stock of the vaccine for the Neissria Meningitis Type C presently ravaging some states in northwest Nigeria.
This, he said, was because there was no need for the vaccine as the state was not affected by the epidemic.
“This new epidemic we are recording presently is a Neissria Meningitis type C.
“We don’t have the Neissria Meningitis type C in Oyo state and there has been no need to vaccinate against it.
“But if any public health care agent, clinic, centre is caught selling vaccines in Oyo, they would be seriously sanctioned.
“We are building a well structured primary health care facility and structure in Oyo state and we would not allow any derailment of our programme by unscrupulous health agents,” he said.
However, Adeduntan said that adequate doses of vaccines against Meningitis A, the type administered on babies and adults in some Northern parts of the country, were available.
“Once a can is opened, it has to be exhausted for the time frame stipulated for its effectiveness.
“If it is hoarded and gets expired, it could lead to very serious medical complications in the country.
“The epidemic of meningitis which recently broke out in Nigeria is different from the one we used to have in the past,’’ the commissioner noted.
He said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had instituted a mass vaccination campaign using the new conjugate vaccine called the MenAfriVac-A in about 16 out of 26 countries, including Nigeria.
He said further that the Federal Government through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) was making the vaccine available for free.
Dr Olufunmilola Lola-Dare, a Community Health Physician, said it would be an anomaly to sell vaccines as their importation and distribution were the exclusive preserve of the federal government.
“The Federal Ministry of Health distributes these vaccines to the state governments who make them available to community health centres, secondary health centres, state government hospitals and the tertiary health care centres.
“These are the 57 federal teaching hospitals and Federal Medical Centres,’’ Lola-Dare said.
The expert added that private operators in the health sector are not excluded in the distribution channel while all vaccines are supplied free.
NAN reports that random checks conducted in major pharmaceutical stores in Ibadan revealed that CSM vaccine was not available.
A pharmacist, who spoke to NAN on condition of anonymity, said that the storage and preservation of vaccines were expensive due to irregular power supply, adding that this can result in a loss.
Our source said that since the Oyo state government had announced that there was no meningitis case recorded in the state, having the vaccine in stock was needless.
In Abeokuta, Dr Akeem Yusuff, the Noncommunicable Disease Focal Person in the Ministry of Health, similarly said the CSM vaccine was currently not available in Ogun.
He told NAN that the federal government had prioritised the states that were given, noting that vaccines are deployed in areas where outbreaks of meningitis were recorded.
According to Yusuff, the state only has vaccines for the Type A meningitis, yellow fever and other diseases requiring vaccination for travellers.
“For now, we don’t have the vaccine because it was provided for priority states where there was a breakout.
“Since we don’t have a breakout, it wasn’t supplied to us.
“We, however, have the Type A vaccine for meningitis and yellow fever for people travelling out of the country who are in need of Yellow Card,” he said.
NAN checks in some pharmaceutical stores in Abeokuta also confirmed that the vaccine was not available.
In Osogbo, Dr Gbenga Adepoju, the Director of Public Health in Osun, said that the health ministry does not have the CSM vaccine in stock since there was no outbreak of the disease in the state.
Adepoju, however, told NAN that the state had put all necessary logistic arrangement in place to bring in the vaccine in less than 24 hours in case of CSM outbreak.
He said keeping the vaccine when there was no outbreak would negate the principle of vaccine storage and preservation.
Adepoju said that the ministry had provision of vaccines for those who might want to travel out of the country since they need the Yellow Card before they would be allowed to do so.
“Since the CSM vaccine is what you must take before anyone can travel out of the country, we have provision for that.
“But when it comes to mass vaccination, we will need support from the federal government which it has agreed to give to any state that has an outbreak.
“I still maintain that Osun is free from CSM and that is why we don’t store the vaccine.
“And since we don’t have it, I don’t think there should be panic buying.
“That notwithstanding, we have been proactive in making sure that we stay on guard so that we don’t have an outbreak.
“The issue now is that there is no point in keeping the vaccine since we don’t have an outbreak while those that have an outbreak are suffering from lack of it.
“But notwithstanding, in case there is an outbreak in the state, we have a proactive logistic arrangement in place to bring in the vaccine to the state,’’ he said.
Adepoju, however, warned residents of states where there had been outbreaks against buying the vaccine in stores, saying it might not have been well preserved.
Similarly, the Ekiti State Government said there was no outbreak of the current CSM epidemic in the state.
It also said, however, that proactive logistic arrangement had been put in place to tackle an outbreak, adding that adequate provisions had been made for the procurement of needed vaccines and oral drugs, with N80 million set aside in the 2017 budget.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Olurotimi Ojo, told NAN in Ado Ekiti said that the amount was part of the N2.8 billion budgeted for the health sector.
A survey conducted by NAN in Akure also revealed that the vaccine for CSM might not be available in Ondo State.
Mr Kayode Owoyele, a resident, said: “May be the vaccine is not available because there are no cases of CSM’’ in the state.
“I have not heard of any vaccine for CSM in this state either from the state or federal government.
“I also haven’t seen or heard of anyone with meningitis in this state as we have heard of cases in some other states,’’ he said.
But Mrs Olubukola Adesola, another resident, urged government to make the vaccine available even if there were no cases of meningitis in the state.
She advised the government to be proactive and ensure that the vaccine was in public pharmaceutical stores to ensure adequate response to an outbreak.
In Ilorin, the Commissioner for Health in Kwara, Dr Atolagbe Alege, said that the state had not ordered for the CSM vaccine because no case of the disease had been reported.
The commissioner explained that the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control has the sole mandate to distribute the vaccine to any state in need.
He said the state had not recorded in any outbreak and there would be no need for any resident to patronise the chemist to buy the vaccine.
Alege, however, noted that the state government was monitoring cases of outbreak of meningitis and other diseases to ensure prompt response.
The commissioner added that the state Ministry of Health had put a unit on standby to tackle any reported incident.
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