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The status of Hepatitis B vaccines in Uganda

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Added 6th April 2018 12:09 PM

What makes Hepatitis B an infectious disease of public health importance is the fact that an excess of two billion people worldwide have been infected.

The status of Hepatitis B vaccines in Uganda

What makes Hepatitis B an infectious disease of public health importance is the fact that an excess of two billion people worldwide have been infected.

Dr Christine Katusiime

Hepatitis B is a major liver infection of global concern caused by the Hepatitis B virus and is responsible for substantial disease and death. This infection can manifest as either acute or chronic liver disease.

As much as hepatitis B is a primarily liver infection, it can have a far-reaching spectrum of complications from affecting other body organs, for instance, the bones, skin, kidneys, heart disease, the brain and nerves to hospitalisation, hypertension, liver cancer and death.

What makes Hepatitis B an infectious disease of public health importance is the fact that an excess of two billion people worldwide have been infected.

The most important preventive measure is vaccination against Hepatitis B. One important observation to note is that the highest prevalence of this infection is in Africa. This means that Hepatitis B vaccines are critical and fundamental in averting disease outbreak and death.

For the supposedly top nation's health authorities to permit counterfeit or ineffective vaccines on the market demonstrates not only how weak the health system is but also how ineffectual the existing monitoring bodies are.

These developments are absurd! This essentially means that babies, adolescents, the elderly, tourists, refugees, immigrants, high-risk populations - health workers, military personnel and the general public have been victims of consuming counterfeit vaccines.

The question now is what is the state of the drugs and all the other vaccines in our pharmacies, drug shops, health centres and hospitals? The other questions are as the exact contents of the chemicals that were inoculated into the victims are being established, what measures have been put in place to provide treatment to the victims let alone trace/contact these victims?

In general, the key objectives of vaccination programmes is to protect susceptible people from contracting the infection or developing severe forms of infection and from reducing viral or bacterial disease circulation in the population.  So what are the outcomes of a health system that is dispensing counterfeit drugs let alone vaccines?

In a country that suffers the highest rate of health workforce absenteeism in Africa, within an already existent weak health system, counterfeit vaccines not only deflate the public's trust in the country's health governance, but also illustrates a system whose policies perpetuates crimes.

The scanty information provided by the ministry of health on this recent scandal to befall the nation's health system is not even close to the full extent of what is about to unfold. The full magnitude of this catastrophe from the cause, extent, complications and treatment was revealed by Prophet Elvis Mbonye on the evening of Tuesday, March 13, at Kyadondo Rugby grounds.

And I quote "There's a big scandal that is coming. This is coming in the realm of the medical world and it shall come to pass that they will say, ‘We thought we had done this rightly but it was the one which was causing this and death resulted in it.' And they shall wake up and the scandal shall spread and some shall even be brought to the courts of justice.

But the spirit of God shall say, ‘Then shall you know my revelation that my healing grace reigns supreme over the nations of the earth. And so my wings of mercy shall spread across the nation and I shall begin to heal and rain mercy upon those that have been affected and life shall be the cry of my people and to the nations of the earth and the nations shall awake to my healing hand and in a short while I shall begin to bring order even in the physical world and I shall begin to bring healing even in the physical world and you shall know I, even I am the Lord of the universe says the spirit of the living God."

Prophet Elvis Mbonye is not a newbie. Over the last one and a half decades, his prophecies have come to fulfillment with such precision that one cannot afford to disregard any word that proceeds from his mouth.

The United Nations resolution on universal health coverage adopted on December 12, 2012, urges governments to move towards providing all people with access to affordable, quality health-care services.

Furthermore, the framework that international human rights offers with respect to health, shifts the analysis of issues from questions of quality of care to fundamental matters of social justice and accountability. What has been done so far? A press statement about counterfeit vaccines and citing the health centers purportedly apprehended with them without any regard to the victims is more than a clear illustration that the affected lives do not matter. Where is the accountability and social justice in this?

So what is the way forward? There must be a follow-up mechanism put in place to provide care - physical / psychological for the victims. The governing bodies, Ministry of Health and National Drug Authority must take full accountability of this catastrophe and be brought to book. A disbanding in both organisations and a fresh restructuring is in order. And who should lead the health revolution in Uganda one could ask? My response is the man that is acquainted with the status of the nation's vaccines… the Prophet, himself.

The writer is a senior health expert

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