Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
Homechevron_rightLifestylechevron_rightHealthchevron_right2.6 crore COVID...

2.6 crore COVID vaccine doses unused in Private hospitals: Report

2.6 crore COVID vaccine doses unused in Private hospitals: Report

2.6 crore Covid-19 vaccine doses remain unutilised in private hospitals across states and union territories, while the government vaccine centres in India face an acute shortage for the same, reports The News Minute (TNM). The agency reports the statistics based on the Press Information Bureau's statement on July 19.

The universalisation of vaccination policy adopted by India, revised and put into effect on June 21, 2021, allotted 25% of the vaccines manufactured in the country to private hospitals, and the rest will be procured by the union government, to be distributed freely to states. But earlier, under the 'liberalised' vaccination policy, though private parties were allowed the same 25% (through their hospitals), the service charges were not capped then.

In a private hospital in Andhra Pradesh, out of 35 lakh vaccine doses were allotted, only 4.63 lakh were used since the beginning of May 2021. The state CM, Jagan Mohan Reddy, had written Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicating how private hospitals fail to utilise the allotted doses fully. It was on June 28, and the statistics were 2 to 6 lakh doses used out of the allotted 17.7 lakhs. He urged the Union Government to procure unused stocks from these hospitals and supply them to government centres.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu and Odisha chief ministers, MK Stalin and Odisha, Naveen Patnaik, made requests before the union government in similar lines. The former wrote PM Modi to reduce the allocation of vaccines to private establishments from 25% to 10%, while the latter met PM and Union Home Minister Amit Shah and asked them to reduce the same to 5%. Patnaik told them that it would pace up the vaccination in his state.

The underutilisation of vaccines in private hospitals could be because of the high cost of a dose. While vaccination is free of cost in government centres, private hospitals charge Rs 780 for Covishield, Rs 1,140 for Covaxin and Rs 1,145 for Sputnik with a service charge up to the maximum Rs 150.

Ramakumar, an economist and professor at Tata Insititute of Social Sciences (TISS), told TNM that the doses allocated to private hospitals are for the rich. He said that, for instance, taking two doses of Covaxin may charge up to Rs 2,700, including tax and service charges. This amounts to half of the monthly income of many, excluding them from this programme by design. He is also of the opinion that it could be because there is a cap on service charges; private hospitals are not keen enough in administering their vaccine stocks as the profits they make might be marginal.

Dr Arja Srikant says that Andhra Pradesh is vaccinating its population through 1,600 centres across the state. There volunteers and ASHA workers help in streamlining the process by mobilising beneficiaries to government vaccination centres. Arja, the Covid-19 nodal officer for the state, asks who would want to take vaccines at such hefty prices when the state has such a robust system in place. She further says that the demand for vaccines from private hospitals has reduced as beneficiaries who can afford the cost have already managed to get inoculated from private hospitals. Those who are yet to be vaccinated intended to attain it from government centres for free, she added. Therefore, she concluded that it is better if the government procure unused stocks and cover more people through public centres.

But Dr TV Ramana Murthy, President of Andhra Pradesh Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (APNA), Krishna district unit, disagrees with the argument that private hospitals are reluctant to administer vaccines because of marginal profits but blames the lack of publicity. He says that the public is not aware of whether the private hospitals have vaccine doses which is why the vaccination process is idle there. He says that there are still many ready to take vaccines, irrespective of the cost. If the publicity is robust and intact, many more can be vaccinated in the state since some are hesitant to approach private hospitals, he adds.

But he also says that "if the public is not aware of the vaccine availability in private hospitals", redistributing them through government channels is better.

Ramakumar of TISS believes that 100% government procurement is the solution for 100% utilisation of manufactured vaccine stocks. The union government should procure it and allot it to the states as per the requirement. Also, the states should be given the autonomy to decide if they want to use private establishments or hospitals for vaccine distribution, Ramakumar added.

Show Full Article
TAGS:Covid Updates Covid vaccine Tamil Nadu 
Next Story