An article published today in Times of India, “Fake yellow fever vaccine certificates pose health risk” talks about the future possibility of an epidemic outbreak of yellow fever.
According to the article, India currently is facing an acute shortage of the yellow fever vaccine, which could lead to the opening of doors for corruption. The vaccine shortage has left travellers who are yet to travel to South America and Africa resorting to alternative options i.e. buying the drug off the black market or even going one step further and procuring a fake certificate for the vaccination as they fear the risk of cancellation of their travel plans.
Yesterday’s article by Africa Review outlined the serious consequences of yellow fever, mentioning a report of eighty people being killed in Sudan due to an outbreak of yellow fever. A similar article published in Sina English detailed thirteen suspected cases of yellow fever in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According the World Health Organization (WHO), yellow fever is an acute hemorrhagic fever caused by the Flavivirus. The term acute here means that the fever affects the whole body rapidly, causing bleeding from orifices and the death of cells in the liver and kidneys. This can cause severe jaundice or a "yellowing" of the skin, hence the disease's name. The transmission of the fever is done via mosquitoes as they can carry the virus from a human to human. WHO states there are an estimated 200,000 cases of yellow fever which cause 30,000 deaths worldwide every year. People travelling to areas where yellow fever is prevalent, such as certain countries in Africa and Latin America, are required to get immunised against the disease prior to their trip and must produce their yellow fever certificate (proof of vaccination) when re-entering their home country afterwards.
Currently, a private company is responsible for distribution of the vaccine in India, meaning that instead of the government rate of Rs 300, it is being priced at Rs 1,534 - even at this higher price, vaccines are still scarcely available. Despite this, thousands of Indians continue to travel to Latin America and Africa courtesy of black-market-bought vesrions of the drug (where it is being sold for Rs 20,000) and fake certificates, which can be obtained for the sum of approximately Rs 7,000 (110 USD).
Those who travel without vaccination, unaware of the consequences, could end up inadvertently carrying the yellow fever virus back to India with them. Government’s inefficiency in managing the vaccine, coupled with ineffective distribution, could impose a great health risk, the consequences of which could be dire should should authorities wait for an outbreak to happen before they initiate a move.
Author: Ajay Pal Singh Chabba/ RESET editorial
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