Leishmaniasis outbreak: Mohmand scrambles to arrange vaccination

Agency officials say despite budgetary allocations and support from WHO, vaccines were never provided

Umer Farooq/mureeb Mohmand April 16, 2018

SHABQADAR/PESHAWAR: There has been an outbreak of Leishmaniasis, or skin ulcers, in the Mohmand agency, local officials have confirmed.

However, despite allocating fund and providing vaccination, the area health officials claim they do not have even a single vaccination dose available. The outbreak was confirmed by Mohmand Political Agent Wasif Saeed in a post on microblogging website Twitter and on the social network Facebook.

Admitting that it was a disease he had never heard of before, Saeed wrote that he had received complaints on the social network about leishmaniasis from different parts of the agency. He added that the agency’s health centres did not have the vaccine for the disease — which is spread through the bite of sandflies.

“I asked the agency surgeon (top health official) to arrange the requisite vaccine and conduct an emergency administration of the vaccine to the infected patients,” the political agent wrote. As a result, Saeed said that he had to ask the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) Health Services Department as well as World Health Organisation (WHO) officials for help to tackle the epidemic.

Following the requests, the Fata Health Services provided Mohmand health officials with 250 vials of the vaccine on an emergency basis. These vials, Saeed wrote, allowed them to conduct a vaccination campaign. “Fifty patients treated today including three Afghan refugees,” Saeed wrote on the account on Sunday while posting a picture of some children who received the vaccine.

He added that vaccines were administered in the Prang Ghar and Ekka Ghund tehsil while vaccination in the remaining basic health units (BHUs) were are underway.

Assistance ‘not on record’

Despite the fact that there is a section in the annual development programme dedicated for procuring vaccines against Leishmaniasis and around 1,000 sets of vaccines from the WHO were transferred to the health directorate for Fata, the directorate claims it does not have even a single dose.

The issue surfaced when the political administration at Mohmand agency sought immediate vaccination against an outbreak of the disease on Sunday.  “The political administration issued directions for carrying out vaccination. However, we were shocked to learn that not even a single dose was available,” a senior official at Fata Health Services Directorate told The Express Tribune.

The official, who requested anonymity keeping in view gravity of the issue, stated that WHO had already provided 1,000 injections of the vaccine to the directorate but the vaccines were not used.

Moreover, the official said that there was no record of where the vaccines had been used before. “I was told that there was a fully-fledged ADP-funded programme under the health sector being executed by the Fata health services directorate. However, until this day, no vaccine was received by the [Mohamand] Agency,” Saeed wrote on the Mohmand Agency Political Administration’s official page.

“On Saturday, we received a batch of around 250 injections and distributed them to 150 to health facilities,” Saeed said, adding that 10 wen to the BHU in Lakarro, 15 to the Rural Health Centre in Yakkaghund, 50 to the BHU in Nawe Kalle Prang Ghar and 75 to the Agency Headquarters Hospital Ghallanai in Mohmand agency.

Fata Health Director Dr Jawad Habyib could not be reached for an official version on the mismanagement despite repeated calls made to him.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2018.


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