– Minister Ramsammy
Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy is to commence an investigation today into reports that some 100,000 doses of HINI vaccines have spoiled due to negligence on the part of officers within the health sector. The vaccines are said to be valued at some $40M.
According to reports reaching this newspaper the vaccines had arrived in good condition but were not properly refrigerated causing them to spoil. Reports are that at least one person has since been sent on leave as a result of this negligence.
Speaking to this newspaper yesterday the Minister said that he only returned to Guyana Saturday morning having attended the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, during the past week.
According to the Minister he has no knowledge that the vaccines have spoiled as no officer of his Ministry has so far informed him. “If this is the case I will be really upset that they chose not to inform me of something so serious,” the Minister noted. “I just returned and I was on cabinet outreach in Region 10 and I have not heard that anything is wrong with the vaccines.”
He did however note that prior to his departure that some 100,000 doses were scheduled to arrive to continue the HINI vaccination process which commenced a few months ago. The Minister revealed that the vaccines were not procured by the government but rather represents another donation from the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO). According to the Minister, he has been able to negotiate with the PAHO/WHO to donate the HINI vaccines to Guyana. So far some 300,000 doses have been assured of which 200,000 should have already arrived, the Minister added. Another 100,000 he said will be sent as the need arises.
As such the Minister noted that there has been no need for the Ministry to procure any HINI vaccines. “I have been trying to supplement what we have at the Ministry of Health with as much donations as possible and I was aware that PAHO/WHO had excess vaccines so I took advantage of that and negotiated for the vaccines that we have gotten.”
Almost two months have already elapsed since the arrival of the first batch of HINI vaccines to these shores allowing for some vulnerable groups to access the medication. Acting Chief Nursing Officer, Tarmattie Barker, had recently revealed to this newspaper that persons have been accessing the vaccine at the Ministry of Health and at all health facilities in the various regions. The municipal facilities, she noted, have not been an exception in offering the vaccine. “For the past few weeks we have had teams going out in Sophia, on the East Coast and the East Bank of Demerara…We even had teams visiting schools as well that were giving out the HINI vaccine…” Barker had related.
And according to her there have been no reports of side effects from persons who have already received the vaccine. The amount of vaccines already administered is yet to be ascertained as according to Barker the reports have to be compiled to determine the actual figure.
Some 75,000 doses of the vaccine arrived in Guyana during the latter part of March month compliments of PAHO/WHO. Minister Ramsammy, had revealed then that some 160,000 persons were identified as eligible to be vaccinated. Among those, he had said, will be approximately 100,000 children under five years of age and about 50,000 persons living with other conditions, for which co-morbidity with the H1N1 virus may prove to be very serious and even fatal. The latter group, which represents persons with certain chronic conditions, was identified based on the Health Ministry’s observance of other countries’ experiences. However, all symptoms and signs of the virus have since disappeared from these shores.
Nonetheless, the Minister had disclosed that he was continuing negotiations with various countries to secure additional supplies of the vaccines.
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