LAHORE - Dumping of unused vaccine in River Ravi by unidentified vaccination teams has put a question mark on the coverage of much-hyped a dozen-day measles campaign that concluded on February 6.

Punjab Health Department set a target of administering vaccine to 28.5 million children from six months to ten years of age during the campaign costing Rs 2 billion.

Recovery of good quantity of anti-measles vaccine from a drain a couple of days back and another 1,000 vials from the River Ravi on Monday has put health managers in the province on backfoot who were claiming achieving 96 per cent target in the province.

Medical community believed that situation in far flung areas in the province could have been worse when vaccination teams in Lahore have dumped huge quantity of unused vaccine.

“What to say about districts like Layya, D G Khan and Rajanpur when vaccine in such a huge quantity remained unused in the provincial capital with better supervision and surveillance. It is a question mark on the coverage of the campaign costing over Rs 2 billion”, said a doctor working at Jinnah Hospital who wanted not to be quoted.

On getting information of dumping of unused measles vaccine in River Ravi, Advisor to Punjab CM on Health Kh Salman Rafiq, Parliamentary Secy Health Kh Imran Nazir, Director General Health Dr Zahid Pervaiz and Executive District Officer Health Dr Mushtaq visited the site and took into custody 1000 vials meant for administering to 10000 children. EDO Health took into custody measles vaccine and got registered a case against unidentified culprits.

Talking to the newsmen at Government Mian Munshi Hospital, Kh Salman Rafiq said that inquiry of throwing anti-measles vaccine into a drain and on the bank of River Ravi would be conducted at town and union council level and stringent action would be taken against the culprits. He said that a similar incident had been reported a few days ago, on which, Secretary Health has constituted a committee for investigation. He said that every vaccinator was provided 20 per cent extra vaccine so that there was no shortage during the anti-measles campaign. He said that it was responsibility of the concerned officials to return the unused vaccine to EDO Health. He said that the matter would be thoroughly investigated so as to determine whether it was laxity or an attempt to sabotage the performance of the department. He said that the situation would clear within couple of weeks.

Kh Imran Nazir said that after most successful anti-measles campaign in 36 districts of the province, throwing of vaccine in two to three towns has raised a number of questions. He said that it could be a conspiracy to undermine the efforts for the development of health sector and tarnish the image of the government. He said that a thorough investigation would be conducted and district government has been issued instructions in this regard.

Dr Zahid Pervaiz said that total coverage of anti-measles campaign in the province has been 96 percent and third party audit report of World Health Organization has also been received. He said that batch number was mentioned on the vial of the vaccine recovered from River Ravi. He said that record would be checked to determine that to which union council or vaccinator this vial had been issued. He said that indiscriminate action would be taken against the persons involved in this incident.