LINDA SOKO TEMBO writes
AN Eleven-YEAR-OLD girl of Nampundwe area in Sibuyunji District has developed serious medical complications after she was allegedly given an overdose of the elephantiasis vaccine by a security guard.
Mercy Kalesa was reportedly given the elephantiasis vaccine in January last year, but later developed some medical complications which left her paralyzed with a constant headache and occasional seizures.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Abel Kabalo promised to follow up the issue to get to the bottom of what exactly happened.
Mercy’s mother, Carol Mweemba, told the Sun her daughter was given a suspected vaccine overdose during the anti-elephantiasis programme in the area last year but developed constant headaches and occasional seizures.
She said that Mercy has been in that state ever since.
THE SUN: What is your name?
Ms MWEEMBA: My name is Carol Mweemba and I live in Nampundwe near Sable camp. I have an 11-year-old girl her name is Mercy Kalesa, she will be turning 12 next month.
THE SUN: Tell us what happened?
Ms MWEEMBA: Mercy was given an overdose of elephantiasis vaccine in January 2018, by a security guard and not a registered nurse or doctor. At the time she was given the dose of Di Ethyl Carbamazine she became paralyzed.
This happened last year in January during an exercise taken by government for the prevention against elephantiasis.
Word had gone around by the Ministry of Health that the young and old people should go and get the vaccine.
I left home with my children and went to get the vaccine at a nearby local clinic.
The health personnel who were giving the vaccine came from Nampundwe clinic.
They gave a security guard the vaccines to give us. All the people who had come for the vaccine had no idea that the person who was giving us the vaccine was not a health person but a female security guard.
She lined up the children and gave them the vaccine. It is at this point that she gave my daughter a dosage of four which was meant for older people. I had no idea what was happening all I knew was that the dosage was ok.
After 30 minutes when we got home, my daughter was unable to walk and started sweating and developed feeling nausea as she kept saying that she wanted to vomit.
I thought that maybe she felt like that, because she had not eaten. I quickly cooked nshima and woke her up to eat but my daughter was unable to move or talk.
I rushed to call my neighbor who advised me that that we take her to the clinic.
When we went arrived at the clinic I told the nurse that my daughter had some complications after taking the elephantiasis vaccine.
She was given an injection to neutralize the vaccine. The nurse asked me how many she had been given and I told her four.
The nurse called a doctor who advised her to give my daughter a certain injection so that the blood could be neutralized.
After three days, we discovered that my daughter was paralyzed and was only able to speak.
We were referred to Levy Mwanawasa Teaching Hospital (LMTH) and they discovered that her body was not functioning properly and that is how she was admitted at the hospital and stayed there for some time.
And my child’s condition was not improving as saliva was just coming out of her mouth. She could not sit on her own or answer the call of nature. She was unable to continue with school in grade seven.
We struggled with our daughter hoping she could be better and with our little resources we visited different hospitals which was a huge cost for us. As a result we sold everything to raise resources just to help her get better. There is very little progress.
Some doctors advised us to take our child to South Africa for treatment but we have no money to do that.
We were told that after medication she would be fine. After a year we were helped with a wheelchair at Beit Cure and LMTH.
My daughter wanted to write her grade seven exams last year. We took her to school under very difficult circumstances but she managed to write and passed.
It was not an easy process she would cry and start shaking as if she was been electrocuted during exams.
We have struggled with our child. She would behave like she is mad sometimes and what hurts the most is that she was not born with such challenges.
I am not sure why a security guard gave her the wrong dosage, maybe she just wanted to destroy the future of my child.
I blame government for what happened to my child. They should not have allowed that security guard to give the vaccines, it’s not right. Up to now, we are trying to find the right medication for our child so that she can live a normal life.
THE SUN: What improvement have you seen so far?
Ms MWEEMBA: There is little progress right now as she is able to walk just for a short distances. The major problem is that she has constant headaches and seizures. And when she wants to write she fits a lot because of her condition but she wants to go to school.
We were advised not to be upsetting her but she cries a lot because she wants to go back to school. We try to take her but it’s not easy because of the distances from our home.
Children get on trucks just to go to school and the bumps have a bad effect on her.
Meanwhile Mr Kasela Mukisi the father of Mercy said all he wanted to see was his child’s desire to go to school.
“My prayer is government to come on board and help our child with education, that is what will make a difference in her life and not marriage because no man would want to marry her with such complications,” Mr Mukisi said