Anti-rabies vaccine in short supply, patients in trouble
KABUL (Pajhwok): Many patients have been forced over the past one year to visit private medical centres for treatment due to the shortage of anti-rabies vaccines in government-run hospital.
A number of patients lashed out at the government for the absence of the remedy even at all state-run hospitals. They complain of having to pay large sums of money to private hospitals for their treatment.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) acknowledged the vaccines in government hospitals had not been available for a year,blaming foreign health organisations for lack of cooperation in the area and inadequate budget.
Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute inflammation of the brain in humans and other mammals. Early symptoms can include fever and tingling at the site of exposure.
These symptoms are followed by violent movements, uncontrolled excitement, fearof water, an inability to move parts of the body, confusionand loss of consciousness. Once symptoms appear, the result is nearly always death.
A number of patients who referred to the rabies vaccination section of Kabul’s Central Hospital in Cinema Pamir area said they were rejected at the hospital due to absence of vaccine and had to refer to private hospitals for treatment.
Safiullah, a 13 years old boy from Qowa-i-Markaz area, is concerned about the grazes that have appeared on his body after dog bite. His family has no money for his treatment at private hospitals.
His mother said government hospital told her the vaccines were unavailable for the past one year. “But I don’t have that much money to take my son to a private hospital,” she remarked.
Mohammad Aman, a resident of Qala-i-Fatwa area whose son is suffering from rabies, alleged a complete absence of the vaccine.He said his son was bitten by a dog when on his way home from school.
“I hoped my son would be treated at the Central Hospital, but doctors there told me the rabies treatment section was inactive and I had to take my child to a private hospital,” he added.Mohammad’s financial situation is poor and he could not pay private hospitalfees and expenses for his son’s treatment.
The father of eight years old Madina, who was also bitten by a dog, said he could not complete her daughter’s treatment due to economic problems.
At the Kabul Central Hospital, several patients were turned away and referred to private hospitals. A hospital official, who wished not to be named, said around 30 rabies patients visited the facility daily, but some staffers referredthem to a private clinic in the neighbourhood.
Dr. Mohammad Yousaf Alikhel, head of the rabies treatment center at Kabul Central Hospital, refused to share information with Pajhwok and said he was not allowed to talk to the media.
All patients coming to the Kabul Central Hospital for rabies treatment were directed to go to a private hospital equipped with the required facilities. The private facility is located about 30 metres from the state-run hospital.
AbdurRazaq, a resident of ShahrakTilayee whose son was bitten by a dog, said the doctor in a private hospital charged him 800 afghanis for first vaccination. Full treatment needs three more shots and he has to pay 600 afghanis for each.
Dr. Shah Wali, head of viral diseases control at the MoPH, said that low interest of medical charities and inadequate funds for rabies treatment had caused the shortage at government hospitals.
In the past, the MoPH distributed 22,000 shots to provincial hospitals yearly. Last year, the ministry purchased 12,000 anti-rabies vaccinevials and distributed them to all provinces, he added.
However, Wali said the vaccines in government hospitals in Kabul were exhausted last year because of the high number of patients. Around 1,000 vaccineshots are needed monthly for treatment of rabies patients in the capital.
The MoPH had recently found access to 1,200 anti-rabies vaccines that would be made available to the Central Hospital in the next few days, Wali added. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has also provided 1,000 vials of the vaccine to the ministry.
Around 13,000 dog bite cases were registered last year across the country. The ministry had no statistics for the current year.
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