Moroto district health officer, Dr Abubaker Lubega, may be in trouble after the Hepatitis B vaccines worth 900 million shillings expired in the stores.
The expiry of drugs has caused a rift between Dr Lubega, the district leadership and members of staff in the district health department.
Information obtained by URN indicates that 18,000 doses of Hepatitis B vaccines were exposed to high temperatures leading to their expiry.
Peter Amei, who’s in charge of disease surveillance in the district on Wednesday openly blamed Dr Lubega for reportedly ignoring the advice given by the cold chain manager on the storage of drugs. Amei said the cold chain manager requested for money several times to improvise alternative power source for the vaccines in case of electricity shortage but it was turned down.
But Dr Lubega in an interview with URN blames his staff for negligence and breakdown of the cool chain system. He says the expiry of vaccines in stores was a deliberate move by the cold chain manager in order to cause him problems. He explains that the power equipment was vandalised by some of the staff that he declined to name.
Peter Ken Lochap, the RDC Moroto says he asked police to investigate the matter and and have the responsible officers brought to book. He notes that the negligence by officers has not only affected the community but also government which has incurred a great loss.
Karamoja region has the highest prevalence rate of Hepatitis B at 23 percent in the entire country followed by Lango and Acholi with 19 percent according to statistics from the Ministry of Health.
Whereas a good number of people have been vaccinated against Hepatitis B, thousands others are yet to complete their doses.
23-year-old Pamela Akello, a resident of Alik Village in Ngeta Sub County in Lira district is struggling to survive following expulsion from her family for testing Hepatitis B positive. Trouble for Akello started in 2015 tested positive for Hepatitis B during a screening exercise at Lira regional hospital.
She was immediately enrolled on treatment. According to Akello, on her return home, she was expelled by her family. She claims that her mother, Helen Odongo even stopped their neighbors from giving her any kind of help. Left without any alternative, Akello decided to stay with her 75-year-old uncle, Obongo Kwirino.
Akello explains that on completion of her treatment, she was declared negative but her family declined to take her back. “I am now stuck here with my uncle in the house you are seeing” she told URN while pointing at her uncle’s house. Her mother, Helen Odongo denies any involvement in expelling her daughter from home.
Odongo claims that she was away by the time Akello’s hut was razed down. She instead referred URN to her husband, Joseph Odongo who also denied demolishing Akello’s hut. Patrick Owach, the brother to Okello says they have tried to settle the matter between Akello and her family in vain. He explains that both Akello’s father and mother don’t want her.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. According to WHO, the virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.
WHO notes that an estimated 240 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B. More than 680,000 of these die annually due to complications of hepatitis B, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis B can be prevented by available safe and effective vaccine.