Indian Government admits shortage of 170 Million doses of essential vaccines- Opposition demands action
- Information gathered from the Health Ministry through the RTI Act confirms the overall shortage of 17 crore doses for diphtheria, measles, tetanus and oral polio vaccine.The shortage for diphtheria vaccine is nine crore doses, followed by 3.14 crore for tetanus, three crore for oral polio vaccine and 90 lakh for measles.The total procurement of vaccines has fallen from 64.10 crore to 58.32 crore this year. The situation, which was already bad last year with an overall shortage of 14.5 per cent, has worsened this year with a shortfall between requirement and procurement resting at 22 per cent.Letter from Brinda Karat:Ref No. : BK/2009/IV/119 October 12, 2009
Dear Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad ji,
I write to draw your attention to an impending shortage of vaccines required for the universal immunization programme. It is ironic that while national attention has been on the production of new vaccines for swine flu with the private sector competing to capture the market, the more basic needs of crores of our children for protection against diseases some of which are life threatening are neglected.
According to information provided by the Ministry of Health in response to an RTI application the extent of shortages are as follows:
REQUIREMENT (IN CRORES)2008- 09 PROCUREMENT2009- 10 PROCUREMENTSHORTAGE
DPT18.1914.1014. 319 Crores
OPV19.7917.8816. 633 Crores
TT17.8313.7813. 693.14 Crores
MEASLES4.784. 983.8890 Lakh
SHORTAGE 11.22 17
% OF SHORTAGE 14.50 %22 %
Thus the crucial protection essential against diseases like diptheria, measles and even against tetanus is gravely undermined by shortages to the extent of 17 crores doses. Shockingly the situation which was bad enough in 2008-2009 with an overall shortfall of around 14.5 per cent, further deteriorated in 2009-2010 to a shortfall between requirement and procurement of 22 per cent.
According to Government statistics the percentage of children covered through the universal immunization programme has shown a steady increase. If the figures are correct and the projected requirements are also accurate then the failure of the Ministry to procure adequate number of vaccines has to be explained and accountability fixed. If on the other hand there are adequate stocks with the Centre and State Governments the implications are that the figures of immunization are false and exaggerated and that since a fewer number of children are getting immunized the requirement is less. In either case the central issue is the undermining of the universal immunization programme and the serious consequences it has for crores of our children, infants and new born babies.
Another aspect of the shortages is related to the shortsighted policy of closing down the vaccine producing PSUs by the previous UPA Government. After your assumption as Union Health Minister you had given a categorical statement in Parliament which was appreciated across party lines, that the units will be reopened for production of vaccines. Regrettably this has not happened and dependence on private sector has grown.
I request you to kindly look into the issue of shortages of vaccines and take urgent steps to procure vaccines in adequate quantities to avert a health disaster. I also request you to ensure that the authorities concerned take urgent and adequate steps to restart full production of vaccines in the PSU units which had been closed down.
Shri. Ghulam Nabi Azad
Hon’ble Minister for Health and
G.O.I. New Delhi
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