tando muhammad khan

The unavailability of vaccines for children in public sector healthcare facilities mainly due to the indifference and negligence of the District Health Department has been posing threats to newborns across the district, complained the health experts and parents.

“Most of public sector healthcare facilities in the district have run out of children’s vaccines meant to immunise children, especially the newborns against eight ailments could suffer them in future,” feared doctors in local teaching hospitals. During a survey conducted by The Nation, Dr Naveed said that hospitals had not been receiving vaccines for whooping cough, diphtheria, measles and hepatitis (only available at DHQ).

Sources in the Expanded Programme on Immunisation of the provincial Health Department said that the scarcity of vaccines had been the result of delaying tactics used by the District Health office Tando Muhammad Khan. Doctors said that children required certain doses of certain vaccines at a specific time and delay in vaccination could affect them.

It is to be noted that after the passage of 18th Amendment in the Constitution, the provincial government is now responsible for supplying vaccines to hospitals.

According to sources, the high-ups concerned have been informed about the shortage of vaccine several times, but to no avail. On the other hand, the Health Department officials said that people were facing problems due to the shortage of vaccines in the market.

They said that normally parents get immunised their children in govt hospitals, basic health units, rural health centres and dispensaries but the shortage had left them in a fix in the district.

“Only hepatitis B and C vaccine is available in the market, which is also unaffordable for a majority of parents,” said a paediatrician. According to him, the Health Department is finding it hard to ensure proper supply of Bacillus Camate Guerain (BCG) to hospitals in the villages and three different tehsils of the district. “It is administered to children to protect them against TB.”

Sources said that there was no BCG vaccine in Taluka Hospital Bulri Shah Karim, Tando Ghulam Hyder, Mirpur Bathoro, Matli, Taluka Hospital Tando Muhammad Khan as well as in the newly constructed building of the District Headquarters Hospital TM Khan, which was claimed to be the mega project for the district by the previous PPP government.

The unavailability of a combination of diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus vaccines has also been affecting children. A senior doctor in the health department said supply of vaccines had been delayed by the provincial and federal government for two months. He said that the vaccinators had not been trained in administering new vaccines for four diseases to children due to which the supply had been delayed with a view to give them to children in the right manner.

“Now, the staff has been imparted training regarding administration of the new vaccines to children. In a few days, hospitals will get enough stock of the vaccines,” he said.

When contacted acting District Health Officer Dr Bashir Ahmed Memon said, “I don’t have any fact and figures about the immunization programme because I have been given additional charge of DHO recently”.