According to a senior health official, Pakistan has wasted $3.7 million worth of donated vaccines for children after failing to store them in the prescribed manner.
The pentavalent vaccines were to prevent children from succumbing to deadly diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, meningitis and pneumonia. These vaccines require cold temperatures in storage but the country’s power sector is neither stable nor reliable, which is why generators are used in such storage facilities.
It is believed that the vaccines were wasted due to fluctuating temperatures on account of faulty generators.
“There may have been issue with the generators, but the facts will become clear after the inquiry,” said Dr Saqlain Ahmad Gilani.
Nevertheless, the government has taken action and suspended the officials involved. “We have suspended the officials concerned and are conducting an inquiry,” shared Saira Afzal Tarar, minister of state for national health services.
The vaccinations were donated by UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) and the wasted vaccines included 1.3 million doses. According to UNICEF’s research, 1 in 10 Pakistani children do not survive beyond 5 years of age and succumb to diseases which can be treated or avoided.
This latest scandal comes at the heels of a national polio campaign which was termed ‘disastrous’ and attracted a lot of criticism from international organizations.