WHO clears health ministry

The World Health Organisation has cleared the health ministry of any blame in the recent infant deaths alleged to have been caused by routine infant vaccinations and/or measles/rubella vaccinations.

WHO representative to Namibia Monir Islam told The Namibian on Monday that the full report will be made public once the experts committee set up by the health ministry has evaluated the findings.

“None of the deaths is due to vaccination. The results cannot be made public before the committee examines the findings, and they will present the results,” Islam said.

Although the WHO has dismissed the allegations, The Namibian has obtained the death certificate of Shareedon Faith Harases, one of the three children whose deaths were attributed to the six and 12-week vaccinations, as well as the measles/rubella vaccinations.

Harases’ mother Julien Mouers told The Namibian yesterday that her daughter died after receiving the measles/rubella vaccination during a vaccination campaign carried out by the health ministry countrywide in July.

Mouers is one of seven parents who have approached the Legal Assistance Centre for assistance to sue the health ministry for alleged vaccine-related deaths, dating back to 2014.

According to Mouers, Shareedon (2) died three days after she was vaccinated for measles/rubella at the Windhoek Central Hospital.

The death certificate issued by the home affairs ministry shows that Shareedon’s death was related to the vaccination.

In a sworn statement at the police, Mouers said she took her daughter for speech therapy at the central hospital, and they were both vaccinated later.

“They took my daughter’s health passport, and injected her. I was not informed about the side-effects of the vaccine, neither was I given information about whom to contact if we encountered problems in future regarding the vaccine,” she explained.

Mouers also said she had no intention of fighting the health ministry as she had made peace with Shareedon’s death, until she met a committee from the ministry about four weeks after burying her daughter.

In the meeting, she said, they told her that Shareedon’s death had nothing to do with the vaccination, but was a result of her daughter’s cerebral palsy condition.

“Islam said to me: ‘I can assure you that your baby did not die from the vaccine’,” Mouers said, adding that she was also told that doctor Yury Vasin, who conducted the post-mortem, was not qualified to do so.

She said the committee which met her could, however, not answer why they had an unqualified doctor doing post-mortems for them, as they claimed.

Mouers said she was informed that the report was completed, but she has been struggling to get access to it.

In August, The Namibian reported that Ombudsman John Walters said he will work with the Legal Assistance Centre on the case of the vaccine-related deaths against the health ministry.

Concerns were also raised that the rate at which the babies were dying, allegedly as a result of the vaccinations, was unacceptably high.

Health minister Bernard Haufiku in August denied that the vaccines cause death. But the ministry formed a committee to investigate only three of the vaccine-related deaths, with the help of the World Health Organisation.

The Namibian was unable to establish why the ministry decided to look into three cases only.

Before the investigation was completed, Islam said their global monitoring system had not recorded any vaccine-related deaths.

“There is absolutely no trend like that in Namibia. I can put my foot down and tell you,” Islam said.

Harare-based WHO vaccines consultant Jain Sujeet, who was in Namibia to assist with investigations, said one of the infant deaths reportedly linked to the measles and rubella vaccination might be a result of bacterial meningitis.

The LAC has, however, said they will go ahead with the case once they have gathered all the facts and evidence. The legal institution said the medical tests done during the post-mortems are inconclusive.

“A pathologist can only “maybe” give us concrete evidence once she or he has conducted a post-mortem personally. We have been informed that the ministry is busy with some policy changes stemming from the letters we wrote and the articles published,” the LAC said in an email. –

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