Vaccine shortage snags immunisation in Nepal


May 11, 2010

KATHMANDU: Nepali government’s vaccination drive aimed at protecting infant children from diseases has stalled completely due to delay in importing the required vaccines, local media reported on Tuesday.

“We do not have a single vial of Pentavalent vaccine,” Bode Bahadur Thapa, an officer at the Logistics Management Division of the Department of Health Services (DoHS), told myrepublica.com. “All our vaccination programmes, which aim at maintaining the immunity of infant children, have come to a standstill as we are already out of stock.” DoHS, however, has not been able to address the pressing demand of health workers across the country.

“We do not know when we will be able to supply the vaccines as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is mainly responsible for them,” Krishna Bahadur Chand, Immunisation Section Chief of Child Health Division at DoHS, told the website. The UNICEF has undertaken responsibility for delivering Pentavalent vaccines, provided by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, to various developing countries including Nepal.

The UNICEF has cited delay in manufacturing as the reason for supply overdue. Dr Sudhir Sharma, who looks after immunisation programs at UNICEF, was not available for comment. According to a DoHS projection made on the basis of various health indicators, 660,000 children were to have been born in the past year.

As per that projection, DoHS required at least 175,000 vaccines to maintain the immunity of all children. But even after discontinuation of the drive for one month, a total of only 131,000 vaccines, apparently insufficient for a single month, was imported last April.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 12th, 2010.

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