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Concerns over anti-rabies vaccine theft

14 June 2013, 12:47 Oduor Omondi

Cases of dog bites have increased tremendously in Kisumu County over the past few weeks, but shocking revelation that anti-rabies vaccines are being stolen and sold off to the highest bidders has caused concern among local residents.  

Investigations have established that there are more than 100 cases of dog bites reported at Kisumu District hospital alone but all patients were advised to purchase the anti-rabies vaccine at designated Chemists in the city.  

The situation was not any better at Nyando District hospital, Ahero, where the Administrator Joshua Maganga admitted that currently the drugs were out of stock.  

A distraught parent, Manasseh Opondo, narrated how he took his 6 year old daughter for anti-rabies jabs after she was bitten by a dog Wednesday but was forced to buy the vaccine at a Chemist in Kisumu city at KES 1400 which translates to KES 7 000 when all the five injections were done.

The girl was bitten by a dog Sunday evening prompting the parents to rush the standard 1 pupil for treatment to guard her against developing debilitating conditions associated with dog bites.  

It later emerged that vaccine for some species of the anti-rabies costs between KES 7 000 and KES 10 000, which is beyond the reach of common citizens.  

This is why most locals prefer not to seek treatment and pray that the dogs that probably bit their children were hopefully not rabid in nature to avoid the prohibitive costs.  

Nyando District Public Health Officer Nicholas Makotsi and Ahero District Hospital Administrator Joshua Maganga both admitted that for the past few months they have not received the anti-rabies supply from the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa).  

Makotsi and Maganga explained that there has been an acute shortage of anti-rabies and anti-venom vaccines for snake bites thus the reason why patients were advised to buy the drugs for injection. 

"The drugs if available are handled by the Public Health Officers but quite often they are out of stock", Makotsi confided.  

The duo revealed that even a child of one of their staff members had a dog bite their parents had to purchase the drugs since the anti-rabies drugs were out of stock.  

Maganga disclosed that Ahero District hospital is supposed to receive 12 Vials of the anti-rabies drugs every 6 months but this has not been done regularly.  

Sources privy to some of the dealings in selected hospitals in Kisumu County divulged that some officers charged with handling the drugs opted to sell them to fetch good returns.  

It also emerged that even some Anti-Retro-Viral (ARV) drugs are also allegedly sold by a similar syndicate after being siphoned out of the Government-run medical facilities preferably to privately-owned hospitals where they are sold at a lucrative amounts.  

Following the disclosure, Kisumu County residents have called upon the Government to move with speed and clamp down on those believed to be selling the anti-rabies drugs which are perpetually out of stock in public hospitals and similarly nab those alleged to be selling the ARVs for other purposes.  

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