The Punjab health department has contested a report by a federal government team on any death from the use of polio vaccine.
Responding to a petition filed at Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench, the Punjab health secretary and the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) director rejected the observation by the prime pinister’s inspection team.
The health officials’ comments, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, clarifies that Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunisation (GAVI) is funding the distribution of the pentavalent vaccine following health ministry’s devolution.
“This is a costly vaccine and any death attributed to this [vaccine] is not on record with the Punjab Health Director General. This vaccine, like others, is released after testing its efficacy and quality by international laboratories approved by the World Health Organization. Moreover, to countercheck the efficacy and potency of the vaccine, which is supplied by the Unicef, samples have been sent to the National Biological Control Laboratory,” said the comments.
Health officials said the govt has signed a memorandum of understanding with Unicef for vaccine procurement and such agreement at an international level cannot prevail if in conflict with the Punjab Procurement Rules 2009.
For procurement of the vaccine in 2010-11, the Punjab health department invited open bids, but the rates offered by local manufacturers were much higher than those by Unicef.
Advocate Nayyar Hussain had challenged the usage of the polio vaccine in Punjab, claiming that the provincial health authorities have ignored procurement rules and safety measures.
The petitioner has nominated Punjab health secretary, EPI director, Rawalpindi health executive district officer, Public Procurement Regulatory Authority managing director, EPI manager and Pakistan Medical Association as respondents in the petition.
Citing the inspection committee’s report on hazards involved in using GAVI vaccines, the petitioner prayed to the court to restrain the provincial authorities from administering the vaccine. The LHC will take up the petition on January 25.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2012.
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