ISLAMABAD: A Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team raided a warehouse at the National Institute of Health (NIH) on Monday and sealed a room containing spoiled vaccine worth million of rupees. The team not only found Pentavalent vaccine vials, reported to have been spoiled earlier, but also polio vaccine.
In February, Pentavalent vaccine sufficient for 1.3 million children kept in the stores of the Extended Programme on Immunisation (EPI) at the National Institute of Health (NIH) spoiled because of hot temperature. The matter came to light when an email was sent by a World Health Organisation (WHO) employee to Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Ayesha Raza Farooq.
Later, an inquiry was carried out and some low-ranking officials were suspended and transferred.
On April 23, National Health Services (NHS) Minister Saira Afzal Tarar held a media briefing, during which she claimed that the ministry had developed a system to prevent vaccine from being spoiled in the future.
An official statement issued by the FIA on Monday said the FIA Islamabad Zone was conducting an inquiry into the matter. During the raid, the FIA team found Pentavalent vaccine 1,361,000 vials worth Rs440m and 11,800 vials of polio vaccine worth Rs3m.
The vaccine was reportedly donated to Pakistan by the WHO. The FIA statement said that the room where the vials were stored had been sealed and action was being initiated against the officials responsible.
FIA Director Inam Ghani told Dawn the vaccine was not expired but spoiled because the correct temperature could not be maintained in the store room. “Further investigation is under way,” he said.
An NIH official, requesting anonymity, said the vaccine could not be destroyed because it contained live virus and there was a specific procedure for destroying it.
“Moreover, over the last two months, the issue of the spoiled vaccine was under inquiry and it was not possible to destroy the vaccine without fulfilling all requirements,” he said.
Talking to Dawn, NHS Ministry Secretary Ayub Sheikh said: “The ministry is cooperating with the FIA team for the inquiry and the issue will hopefully be resolved soon.”
- DAWN Group of Newspapers
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