ISLAMABAD - A Division Bench of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday directed Ministry of National Health Services & Regulations to submit its reply in a contempt of court petition challenging the procurement of Polio, Tetanus, Measles and BCG vaccines from UNICEF.
The Bench comprising Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui issued these directions in a contempt of court petition filed by Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Rawalpindi/Islamabad chapter stating that the Federal Ministry of National Health Services & Regulations and Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) have been violating court orders by procuring Polio, Tetanus, Measles and BCG vaccines from UNICEF, that provides these products, without any warranty.
“Procuring a medical product without warranty is violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules 2004 and Drug Act 1976,” the petitioner maintained. The counsel for PMA, Malik Imran Safdar Advocate contended before the court that UNICEF purchased these vaccines from different manufacturers around the world and then supplied these to the third world countries.
“The UNICEF claims no warranty of any product in case it is substandard or has some side effects,” the counsel further argued.
He added that the same organization however took handling charges of the products from the countries to which it provided the medicines or vaccines.
Later, the division bench directed the ministry to submit reply and also directed the petitioner to nominate the current officials of the Ministry as respondents.
Talking to The Nation, Advocate Imran Safdar told that the PMA had moved this petition in 2007 and then federal ministry of health had submitted an undertaking before the court that it would follow the drug act 1976 and PPRA rules.
He added that then, the Ministry followed its commitment for two years but again it started of with the previous practice. The petitioner then filed two contempt petitions before the IHC that has been pending adjudication since January 12, 2012.
The petitioner told the court that respondents in derogation and sheer violation of 2007 court orders, and contempt notices of January 2012, have repeatedly procured un-warranted and suspect quality drugs / vaccines directly from UNICEF during 2009, 2012 and 2013.
He informed that till now the respondents have procured vaccines worth of 1,520 million rupees from UNICEF.
He added that the effects of measles vaccines and polio vaccines had been vice versa to their purpose as reported recent years.
Petitioner further told the court that the respondents despite being aware of the severity of the issue and its legal consequences are again making preparation for procurement of un-warranted vaccines directly from UNICEF which is illegal, unlawful, tainted with malafide against the PPRA rules.
Therefore, he prayed to the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the respondents.