The Narendra Modi-led NDA government has put the Pulse Polio – the national immunisation campaign scheduled to be held on 3rd February, on hold due to lack of polio vaccines.
According to a media report published by The Print, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 18th January has issued a letter to all the states which are short on vaccines, asking them to postpone the campaign indefinitely. Currently as per the report, only states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala have the required stock of the vaccines.
Ministry’s letter accessed by the online portal mentions that,
“Due to unavoidable circumstances, it has been decided to postpone the programme for the time being while adding that the reschedule date will be communicated in the future.”
The report further suggests that government is facing a shortage of:
- Oral Poliovirus Vaccine (OPV), that is given to children to eradicate polio
- Inactivated Polio Vaccines (IPV) due to lack of funds, lower production and longer testing procedures
The government in its response has stated that it has the required quantity of bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV), however, keeping in mind the safety and quality, the testing process of bOPV has been made more strict. It is only after further testing, the vaccines will be dispatched soon to respective states.
With regards to the shortage of IPV, the government has cited reason of ‘shortage of funds’. Justifying their stance, the government has attributed this scarcity to the hike in the price of IPV. India is currently in process to partially import the vaccine.
The bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine is the modern Oral Poliovirus Vaccine. According to UNICEF, the prices for IPV have increased from ₹61 per dose to ₹147 in 2019. The prices are expected to further shoot up to ₹177 per dose between 2020 and 2022.
In March 2014, India was officially declared “polio free” by the WHO. The last case of wild polio virus type 2 in the country was in 1999. However, India continues to maintain a highly sensitive surveillance system for polio. All cases of paralysis with sudden onset in children up to 15 years (which is called Acute Flaccid Paralysis or AFP) are picked up by the polio surveillance network.
While it is disheartening to hear statements such as “shortage of funds” by the Indian Government, every citizen must be aware that in the past 4.5 years, the same government has exorbitantly spent ₹5300 crore on PR and ₹2000 crore on Travel for Narendra Modi. Read Full Report with figures from the ministry below.
This is the same government which has built the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue in Gujarat at a cost of over ₹3,000 crore.
This is the same Modi government who has taken ₹88,000 crore at 0.1 per cent for India’s ambitious bullet train project.
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