We are NOT authorized by Govt of India for Yellow Fever Vaccination

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Travellers’ nightmare: Yellow fever vaccine stocks run out, production unit awaits repair in India !

With the only government-run production unit for yellow fever vaccine in Kasauli out of order for nearly two years, most authorised vaccine centres in the country are fast running out of stock. This has prompted the Ministry of Health to issue advisories allowing prospective travellers to purchase the vaccine from the market and get themselves injected at government centres.
The vaccine is mandatory for travel to African and South American countries considered endemic regions for the disease. Yellow fever is a viral haemorrhagic fever that is spread by mosquitoes.
With authorised vaccine centres only in a few metropolitan cities, many people travel hours to get the shots but have to often return empty-handed since supplies are running low.
Director General Health Services Dr Jagdish Prasad said: "Our indigenous vaccine supply has been affected for the last two years after our production unit in Kasauli broke down. We imported bulk stock of the vaccine from WHO in 2011, but now that stock is also running out."
Ministry officials said efforts to buy another stock from WHO have not met with success. With a crisis on hand, two immediate steps have been taken by the ministry. "About two-three weeks ago, we issued guidelines allowing prospective travellers to purchase the vaccine from private centres, bring them to government units and get themselves injected. But private centres are still not authorised to administer the shots," said Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, Deputy Director General (International Health), Ministry of Health.
But ministry officials acknowledged that the cost of a vaccine in the private sector is between Rs 2,500-3,000 while it is available for Rs 150 at a government centre.
"We realise that if the government purchases the vaccine directly from a private manufacturer and supplies it to our centres, we can bring down the cost for the people. So, we are trying to bring about an arrangement to purchase the vaccine from a company like Sanofi Pasteur which produces standard, quality vaccine. The file has just been moved to Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad for final
Traveller's nightmare: Yellow fever vaccine stocks run out, production unit awaits repair approval," Dr Prasad said.
But many pharmacists said they have not been stocking the vaccine. "The vaccine has to be imported, and it is too expensive for most pharmacy shops to obtain. We have certain vaccine dealers who procure the vaccine from pharmaceutical companies and sell it directly to doctors, but not to the average user," Rajiv Bhatia, Organising Secretary of the Retailers and Distributors Chemist Association (RDCA), said.
While the vaccination centre near Delhi airport and the one run by the municipal corporation are already out of stock, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), which runs the third centre in the capital, will also run out of the vaccine soon.
Dr P K Bansal, Municipal Health Officer of the NDMC, said: "This last vaccine stock was sent to us in 2011. It will soon get over. We are short on supply for the last 2-3 months. We now have our very last lot left."
Ministry officials said Chandigarh, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune have also reported shortage of the vaccine.
Meanwhile, authorities at Kasauli's Central Research Institute (CRI) said there was delay in trying to identify a company that could repair the imported machine purchased in 1994-95.
Dr Sunil Gupta, Director of CRI, said: "For the last one-and-half years, we have not been able to come out with the vaccine since a key part known as a freezer drier, which is used to dry the liquid form of the drug, has been out of order. Since it is an imported machine, it is very difficult to find a company that can do the repairs."
Dr Gupta said an open tender was floated but only one company responded. "As per government rules, we need at least three bidders in an open tender. We communicated our problem to the Ministry and they have granted this the status of a special case where we can proceed with the sole responder. We will finalise the details now," he said.

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