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VITAL DRUG FOR PREGNANT WOMEN RUNS OUT

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MANZINI – While government continues with its lavish spending, the lives of pregnant women and their unborn babies are at risk.


This follows that the country’s public hospitals and health institutions have been without a much needed vaccine known as TT (Tetanus Toxoid).
The drug can also be used by severely injured people.


Information gathered is that the vaccine, which prevents pregnant mothers and their babies from getting the tetanus infection, ran out in the country’s hospitals and clinics in August last year and many pregnant women have been forced to source it elsewhere, including private clinics at a fee of about E50.


Threatening


Tetanus is a life-threatening disease for which there is no cure, but it is easily preventable with the TT vaccine. You can get infected with the disease when tetanus bacteria, which are common in soil and dust, enter your body through an open wound.


Worth noting is that pregnant women receive the vaccine free of charge from public hospitals or health centres. Immediately after it got finished, pregnant women were advised to go to pharmacies or private clinics where they got the vaccines from between E50 to E100, a shot.


However, it has since been gathered that some of the private clinics now have limited supply due to the influx of women coming for the vaccine.
“After getting the TT injection, your body makes antibodies which fight against the tetanus bacteria and prevent the disease from developing.

Your antibodies are passed on to your growing baby when you get the vaccine during pregnancy so that your baby is also protected from the disease for the first few months of life until it (baby) gets the first TT vaccine, usually at the age of six to eight weeks, as part of the DTP vaccine,” Dr Nkululeko Dube said.


Vaccine


A nurse employed at a local hospital revealed that they ran out of the vaccine in August last year and since then, they had been referring their patients to other private clinics or pharmacies where they paid for it.


 “Some pharmacies had the vaccine until about two months ago when they also ran out. Our patients are stranded and fear the worst. We always advise them to go to South Africa if they can, so that they could be assisted. This is a major challenge as the Ministry of Health stopped supplying the vaccine. We have tried to do follow-ups, however, we were told there was nothing they could do as suppliers were not paid and they stopped supplying such vaccines among other medication,” the nurse said.


Meanwhile, Dr Dube added that TT could cause severe illness on the pregnant mother, even death.
“The tetanus bacteria generally affects the nervous system. It often enters the body through wounds and cuts as well as the unhealed umbilical stump in the newborn.”


“It is generally important to immunise all pregnant women to prevent both the baby and mother from contracting this disease. The number of doses needed depend on how many times a woman has been immunised in the past and when they received the last dose. Roughly, 200 000 newborns die every year because of tetanus mostly in poor developing countries,” Dr Dube said.
 He added that the TT injection from the first pregnancy protected women from the disease for up to three years if they had the two doses of the vaccine, and five years if they had three doses. 

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