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Inquiry called into Northland Meningitis outbreak delays

22 May 2019

National MPs Shane Reti and Matt King are supporting a petition calling for an inquiry into the Northland Meningitis outbreak after presenting to the Health Select Committee this morning.

“Today we presented evidence of delays and deception across multiple parts of the Ministry of Health, the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) and PHARMAC in response to the outbreak,” Dr Shane Reti says.

“The Meningitis Foundation tag line is ‘every second counts’, and we challenged the Health Select Committee whether every second had counted in the Northland outbreak,” Dr Reti says.

“We presented evidence Northland DHB had frequently lobbied Health Minister David Clark for a vaccination program, including by teleconference, a claim the Minister has denied in writing. The Minister needs to come clean. He ignored the pleas of Northland DHB,” Mr King says.

“Northlanders are amongst the highest risk, lowest socio economic population group in our country. Our DHB asked for help early on and didn’t get it. That is unacceptable.

“A segment of our at-risk youths were ineligible for the Government funded vaccination campaign. The Government ignored expert advice that recommended all under 20s should be vaccinated, and a child that was not covered passed away,” Mr King says

“We have evidence of a delay of 22 days from the day Meningitis qualified as an outbreak in Northland to the day it was officially declared, a delay that put lives at risk and makes a mockery of the every second counts in Meningitis rule,” Dr Reti says.

“After the outbreak was declared it then took a further 14 days before PHARMAC ordered the vaccines, despite the anxiety of vaccine manufacturers who were aware of short supplies,” says Dr Reti

“It even looks as though PHARMAC may have deliberately altered the date of the vaccine Purchase Orders to make it look as though they had acted more quickly than they did. This would be a very serious matter requiring independent forensic investigation.

“Delays and deception by the Ministry of Health, ESR and PHARMAC clearly show they did not make every second count in the Northland Meningitis outbreak and 502 people including Matt King and myself are supporting the call for an inquiry,” Dr Reti says.


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