Dr Emmanuel Kofi Dzotsi, the Upper East Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has called on members of the public to desist from buying vaccines from pharmacy shops.
He said the process by which vaccines were transported into pharmacy shops was questionable, as the cold-chain system needed to maintain the potency of vaccines, especially rabies and hepatitis ‘B’ vaccines was already broken in the transportation process into pharmacy shops.He cautioned members of the public to be concerned about the potency of vaccines in pharmacy shops.
Dr Dzotsi made the call at a day’s orientation workshop for Journalists on risk communication on rabies, prevention and control in the Region organised by the GHS, in collaboration with the USAID, as part of the Breakthrough Action project’s Global Health Security Programme.
According to Dr Dzotsi, some pharmacy shop operators transported vaccines in bags from the wholesale point into their refrigerators, noting that when vaccines were transported in that manner “they lose their potency. What is left is just water.”
The Director, who was concerned about the mode of transportation of vaccines into pharmacy shops, insisted that “for vaccines, the correct source is the health facility.
“Rabies vaccine is a cold-chain commodity. So right from its production outside the country, it is in cold chain. Immediately it arrives at the airport, our cold van transports it to the national cold room and from there, and they are transported to the Regional and District cold rooms in our cold vans.
“So, there is no broken cold chain, but the pharmacy does not have that system. So, inform members of the public not to procure vaccines from pharmacies, but they should visit public health facilities for quality vaccines,” Dr Dzotsi told the journalists.
He further urged members of the public to immediately wash sites of dog bite with soap under running water and visit the nearest health facility without delay.
Dr Dzotsi said there were enough quantities of anti-rabies vaccines at the Regional Medical Store but indicated that its usage must be certified by a Clinician upon proper examination on a dog bite victim.
He said officials of the Veterinary Service Department would have to also examine the dog to know its rabid status before anti-rabies vaccines were issued, “Because not every dog bite is from a rabid dog.
“There should be thorough assessment before anti-rabies vaccine is given,” the Director said.
Mr Robert Bayuo, the Regional Data Officer of the Veterinary Service Department, explained that rabies affected every warm-blooded animal, “Once an animal has blood in its system, it can get rabies.”
He said it was a zoonotic disease with 100 per cent fatality, “The reason is that once a person gets rabies and begins to manifest clinical signs, there is nothing that can be done, the person will die.”
Mr Bayuo noted that rabies was one of the under reported and neglected tropical diseases that affected marginalised and vulnerable people, and said the disease had long incubation period, the reason it was under reported.