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TB Vaccine Scarcity Noticed In Cameroon 

By Leocadia Bongben — It has been noticed that the vaccine, Bacillus Calmette–Guérin, BCG, against tuberculosis for children from 0 – 1 year, is scarce in some health centres in the country.

Prepared from a weakened live bovin tuberculosis virus, BCG provides about 80 per cent immunity for children for about 15 years, depending on the region. A young woman gave birth to a baby boy on July 15 at the Efoulan District Hospital, but, the baby was not vaccinated. The woman, Linda Kiyo, was told to come on Thursdays to check if the vaccine was available.

This is the situation in other centres in Yaounde where a nurse indicated that the scarcity was not specific to the Odza dispensary. “Go to Efoulan or Nkoldongo district hospitals and in the whole country, there is no BCG,” the nurse said. Other nurses in a group could be heard discussing the BCG scarcity and apparently worried on what to do.

The Post learnt, that there is a problem with the storage facility at CENAME, such that drugs that are not used for a long time often get expired leading to stock outs. However, the personnel of the Ministry of Public Health continue to say there are enough vaccines at the Enlarged Programme for Vaccination, PEV, for the vaccination week in the days ahead. Government is said to have taken measures to ensure that vaccines against infectious diseases are available.

The reality on the field is causing mothers to worry that their newborns who cannot get the vaccine may be affected. But Dr. Abena, Permanent Secretary of the National Programme for the Fight Against Tuberculosis, describes the situation as still under control. Abena averred that a child can still catch up with the vaccine within the period of one year without any problem. He cautioned that there is no cause for alarm at the moment.

First published in The Post print edition no 01449

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