Maputo — A fire raged through part of the main medical stores in Quelimane, capital of the central Mozambican province of Zambezia, early on Monday morning, destroying an as yet unspecified quantity of vaccines.
The fire broke out at about 01.00, and destroyed the offices of the stores, and the offices of the Expanded Vaccination Programme (PAV).
The Zambezia Provincial Health Director, Hidayat Cassimo, cited by Radio Mozambique, said that, thanks to the speedy intervention of teams of firemen from Quelimane airport, and from the company Cornelder (which manages the port of Quelimane), the flames did not reach the two warehouses where the medicines for the province are stored.
“All the PAV offices and the offices of the provincial medical stores were completely destroyed”, said Cassimo. “In these places we have suffered heavy losses. In the PAV office alone we had more than ten computers, and more than 11 refrigerators containing some vaccines, and they have been utterly destroyed. In the offices of the stores, we had seven computers, as well as desks and chairs and they've all been reduced to ashes”.
But Cassimo added that the availability of medicines in the province is not under threat, since the medicines and the vaccines contained in the larger warehouses were not affected by the blaze.
After the fire was brought under control, the main efforts of staff at the medical stores on Monday morning was to restore electricity in the areas where those vaccines that escaped the blaze are stored, to prevent any deterioration.
“Those medicines which need cold storage and the vaccines, we'll have to move them this morning so that we can store them properly since we only have ten hours before they deteriorate”, said Cassimo. “We shall collect the medicines and vaccines which need refrigeration, and store them in places such as hospitals and health centres”.
The fire broke out on the eve of an emergency polio vaccination campaign, due to start on Thursday in several Zambezia districts. The health authorities guarantee that the campaign is not compromised, because most of the vaccination kits required are already in the districts.
The origin of the fire is not yet known, but a short circuit is suspected.