By Moya Nina Iowa
VACCINES stored in vials at the Ihu Health Centre in Gulf were damaged when the storage freezer ran out of gas and stopped working recently.
Officer in charge of the health centre and nurse Taibu Kairi said 792 vaccines were damaged.
The damaged vaccines, mostly donations from agencies such as the World Health Organisation and Unicef, are worth between K5000 to K10,000.
The Ihu Health Centre has no power supply and uses gas to run the freezer.
The gas cylinders last about three months with at least two cylinders on standby.
The gas cylinders were supplied by the provincial health office but none have been supplied since April.
According to Kairi, the last gas delivery was 18 months ago.
Kairi last requested for two standby gas cylinders on April 18 when he turned on the last gas cylinder in the centre, however, the provincial health officer did not respond to his requests.
On July 7, the gas ran out.
“This would not have happened had the provincial health officer sent the gas cylinders. They did not even give me one single response at all,” Kairi said.
“The authorities have to be held accountable as this is gross negligence, resulting in thousands of kina worth of damage and thousands of lives now at risk.”
Kairi said that the vaccines were very important as they were used specifically for the immunization of babies and mothers and the damages has left 6381 babies vulnerable to pre-natal and neo-natal diseases as well as other serious diseases such as TB and tetanus.
Ihu Health Centre delivers an average of 12 babies per month.
Among the medicines damaged was 113 vials of oral polio vaccine which was administered to newborn babies to prevent polio infections.
Since the damage of the vaccines, the health center has not been able immunise babies and children.
By Moya Nina Iowa