The ministry of health and the National Drugs Authority (NDA) are investigating circumstances under which eight health facilities from areas around Mbarara, Kampala, Mbale and Wakiso were issued falsified hepatitis B vaccines and the contents of the vaccines they administered to unsuspecting public.
The Minister of state for health General duties Sarah Acheing noted; “the facilities are; Mbarara Community Hospital, Divine mercy,Mayanja Memorial, Family Doctors clinic Ntungamo, Mbarara City clinic, UMC Hospital Bukoto, Malcolm Health care Kisaasi, and KampalaMedical Chambers Buganda Road”.
To this effect, the minister of health says all hepatitis B vaccination camps by private health facilities across the country have been halted and left to only a few cleared clinics.
“The private health facilities that have been cleared to provide the Hep B Vaccine are: Nsambya Hospital, Kibuli Hospital, Mengo Hospital, Rubaga Hospital, International Hospital Kampala (IHK), Norvik Hospital, Case Hospital and Nakasero Hospital.”
Government will be working hand in hand with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ascertain details of the falsification. As part of investigations, all vaccines that were found in the quoted areas have been quarantined and will be recalled.
“NDA has been instructed to recall the 10ml vial of Hepatitis B vaccine from Serum Institute of India from all private facilities (hospitals, clinics, pharmacies) and test the falsified products to establish the contents of the vaccine.”
Dr Medard Bitekyerezo the chairman NDA says they have quarantined all vaccines that were found in the health facilities and marked them and no one can administer them to anybody.
Furthermore, the eight health facilities that were found in possession of the falsified drugs had police statements taken from them to help with investigations and three medical personnel suspected to be part of the vaccine scam arrested.
“Some suspects have been arrested and are currently under police custody to assist with investigations while others have recorded statements at the respective police stations,” Opendi said.
The government is still hopeful that only the labeling on the vaccines is wrong but content is unhampered with. They suspect that the dubious officials may have stolen them from government health facilities.
“Falsified means that it could be a genuine vaccine but someone has tampered with the label just to make money,” Bitekyerezo said.
Though the ministry says the vaccines may not have any potential effect on those who already had it administered to them, they warned that as government crosschecks with other clinics, they should desist from going to unregistered clinics for the vaccination.
Medical facilities were also cautioned from buying drugs from hawkers considering the impact it may have on the drug content.
As the ministry handles its investigations it notes that most of falsified vaccine providers who were named are diversionary as they cannot be found anywhere.
“The available information, however, shows that all eight facilities found with the suspected falsified Hepatitis B vaccines bought them from unlicensed dealers with fake addresses on the invoices and receipts. For instance; Kumate Diagnostics Ltd – Kampala, Forever Green Enterprises Old – Kampala,” Opendi added.