By Angela Oketch
Health and Science reporter
Nation Media Group
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As patients went without vaccines in public hospitals, a six-tonne consignment of the drugs wasted away at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) for three years because government officials dithered over clearance.
Now the 6.1 tonnes of pentavalent – a vaccine meant to protect mothers and children against five potentially deadly diseases– has expired and will be destroyed.
The consignment of the vaccine that arrived at JKIA Swissport storage in 2017 wasted away due to bureaucracy and failure to pay clearance token fees.
The red tape could have denied many Kenyans immunisation against haemophilus influenza type B (the bacteria that causes meningitis, pneumonia and otitis media – ear infection), diptheria, whooping cough, hepatitis B, tetanus and other ailments.
Pentavalent, also known as Five-in-One, is a combination with of five vaccines.
The Nation obtained a copy of a confidential letter to Health Director-General Patrick Amoth late last month by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB), revealing the mess.
Headlined “Collection and Disposal of Expired Vaccines at JKIA Swiss Port Storage”, the letter says the storing firm wants the expired vaccines destroyed since as they are occupying valuable space.
“These are lifesaving vaccines that should be treated with urgency once they get into the country but because of bureaucracy by the clearing agency, we have to dispose of 6.1 tonnes of vaccines. Very unfortunate,” Drug Crime and Investigations head at PPB Dennis Otieno says in the letter.