Swine flu vaccine delayed

KATHMANDU: The shipment of swine flu vaccine to Nepal has been delayed almost by a month after the manufacturing company cited time lag in production. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had earlier assured the vaccine by the end of January.

Nepal will receive the Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) vaccine by the first week of March, said

Dr Nirmal Kandel, national programme officer, Communicable Diseases Surveillance and Response, WHO.

"The delay in production of the vaccine by the manufacturing company has delayed the shipment," he said, adding that the manufacturing companies are unable to produce the required amount of vaccine that they had pledged.

Earlier, WHO had assured that the vaccine would be made available in Nepal by the end of January, initially to around ten per cent of the total population. In the first phase, the WHO is sending about two per cent of the total allocated vaccine.

Meantime, the five sets of intensive care equipment for the treatment of swine flu have reached the country in time, informed the national programme officer.

Talking to The Himalayan Times, Kandel said, "We'll hand over the equipment by Friday." He said that one set of equipment has already been installed at the Western Regional Hospital after the outbreak of bird flu.

The hand over would be done to the ministry for onward distribution to five hospitals.

WHO had said it was providing the equipment to strengthen the hospital capacity and to treat the patients in full-fledged condition.

MoHP has also identified target groups who could get immunised. Healthcare workers and their dependents, pregnant women, high-risk groups with co-morbid conditions, children under five years old and the elderly over 65 years are on the top priority. The cumulative confirmed cases of H1N1 in Nepal thus far are 171, out of which two have died.