CPI (M) for keeping vaccine units going

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Coimbatore, Apr 1 (UNI) The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today urged the Union Health Ministry to restore the licence and resume production of vaccines in all the three public sector units and allocate more funds for upgradation and modernisation of the units to save millions of Indian children and women.

In a letter to Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, a copy of which was released during the ongoing 19th Congress of the CPI(M) here today, Party State Secretary N. Varadharajan said every year in India 26 million children were born and these infants were to be immunised against vaccine preventable diseases before the age of nine months.

The Union Government,though the 'National Immunisation Programme,' undertook this task. While the aim the programme'' was 100 per cent coverage in India, less than 60 per cent of the children get vaccinated against the deadly diseases.

The vaccine requirements for this programme had been met mainly by three Central public sector units -- Central Research Institute, Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh, BCG Vaccine Laboratory in Chennai and Pastuer Institute of India, Coonoor in Tamil Nadu.

These three units contributed nearly 60 to 70 per cent of India's primary vaccine requirement against Diptheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Poliomyclities, Measeles and Childhood TB.

Also Anti-Rabies Vaccine (ARV) for animals and humans, vaccine against typhoid, yellow fever, anti snake bite serum, 100 per cent of TT and DT requirements were met by them.

These units had started the expansion programme of immunisation as per WHO's strategy of ''Health for all by 2000 AD'' from 1978.

They had dedicated manpower and were self-sustaining units functioning on ''no loss, no profit'' basis.

Mr Varadharajan said on January 15 this year, the Union Health Ministry had ordered to stop the production of vaccine by these units stating the vaccine produced by them did not comply with WHO standards.

In these circumstances, vaccine procurement from private sector, which was inevitable, would eat into the already meagre resources of the Union Health Budget.

The closure will deal a death blow to the stimulus for indigenous vaccine production and R& D besides having grave consequences for the National Immunisation Programe.

The CPI (M) leader urged the Union Health Ministry to allocate more funds for upgradation and modernisation process that was already underway (60 per cent work completed already) and allow them to continue to produce all the vaccines they had been producing in the interest of public health and the nation.

UNI KS/WS RL KP1823

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