The mandatory Meningococcal vaccine is reportedly being administered to Sri Lankan Hajj pilgrims through unregulated means, Secretary of the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) Dr. Haritha Aluthge said.
“Reports indicate that there are currently no stocks of the Meningococcal vaccine in Sri Lanka. Allegations surfaced over the weekend that the drug has been imported to Sri Lanka through unregulated means and are currently being administered to pilgrims by certain establishments,” he said.
The Meningococcal vaccine is a crucial requirement for Hajj pilgrims due to the risk of meningococcal disease transmission during the mass gathering in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The close proximity and large crowds at the Hajj pilgrimage create an environment where infectious diseases, including meningococcal meningitis, can easily spread. To safeguard the health and well-being of pilgrims and prevent outbreaks, Saudi Arabian authorities and international health organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), have made the meningococcal vaccine mandatory for all individuals participating in Hajj to minimize the risk of infection and protect both pilgrims and the wider population.
Dr. Aluthge charged that health authorities should have prepared for this requirement well in advance. “This vaccine is not a drug that is administered throughout the year. This is a seasonal requirement for Sri Lankan pilgrim departing for Hajj. But the lapse in the state health sector has made way for the drug mafia to profit out of this situation. These are not ordinary drugs that can be imported easily,” Dr. Aluthge charged.
Dr. Aluthge said that there was a cold chain to be followed when handling the drug. “The vaccine must be transported and kept in certain temperatures until the vaccine is administered to the patient,” Dr. Aluthge said, questioning the process in which the drug has allegedly been brought to the country. He stressed that Sri Lankan Muslims must be given the opportunity to practice their beliefs. “The government should provide an alternative to Sri Lankan pilgrims who are faced with the issue,” he said.
source daily mirror