Health crisis in Nepal due to shortage of BCG and MR vaccines

  • Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
  • Updated: Dec 19, 2014 14:35 IST

Thousands of infants and parents across Nepal have been left in a lurch following shortage of BCG and MR vaccines administered to prevent tuberculosis (TB), measles and rubella.

Stocks of these vaccines distributed free of cost have run out at hospitals and health outposts for some weeks now forcing the government to seek UNICEF's help to tide over the crisis.

Health minister Khagaraj Adhikari told journalists on Thursday that 30,000 vaccines would be provided by the UN body, but it would take another two weeks for them to reach Nepal.

The government has decided to procure another 70,000 BCG and MR vaccines through the UN body before it is able to buy them through routine process of inviting bids from manufacturers.

Nepal needs over 15,000 BCG and MR vaccines each month and there is a possibility of TB, measles and rubella outbreak---all three diseases are contagious---due to the present shortage.

According to Nepal government's vaccination schedule, BCG vaccine is administered at birth and MR vaccine at 9 months.

There is one central cold store and six regional cold stores across the country. As per existing policy, the central store should have a maximum of 13 months and a minimum of 7 months stock of vaccines at any given time.

But indecision by health ministry officials in purchasing vaccines on time led to the present crisis.

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