TB drug shortage fears allayed
Whinsley Masara Chronicle Reporter
THE Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa, has said the country now has enough stocks of the Bacille de Calmette et Guérin (BCG) vaccine for tuberculosis which was in short supply recently. A single dose of the BCG vaccine is used to prevent TB and administered within hours of a child’s birth.
The vaccine’s availability is critical to reducing infant mortality and experts say BCG can be anywhere from zero to 80 percent effective in preventing tuberculosis for a duration of 15 years, but its protective effect appears to vary according to geography and other factors.
Mothers with new born babies are being urged to return to hospitals and clinics two or three days after being discharged if their children were not immunised as a result of the vaccine’s shortage.
“I would like to announce that BCG vaccine is now available in our country and so far has been distributed in all provinces for further distribution to hospitals and clinics,’’ said Dr Parirenyatwa.
“We hope a quick distribution to all health facilities will be done as BCG vaccine is administered at birth to provide protection against tuberculosis (TB) and is administered in all delivery institutions in Zimbabwe.”
Renowned paediatrician Dr Hilda Mujuru said parents should ensure that their babies are vaccinated. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that the BCG vaccine must be administered on all children living in highly-endemic countries, as well as infants and children at particular risk of TB exposure in otherwise low-endemic areas.
For the past three years, there has been a decline in global availability of the BCG vaccine as some suppliers have exited the market, leading to increased demand for the remaining global suppliers.