The three public sector units (PSUs) producing essential vaccines such as DPT, BCG and TT might have resumed operation, but they are hardly making any contribution to the Government’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP), with private sector accounting for over 90 per cent of the requirement.
Data available from the Government shows that the country’s immunisation programme is largely dependent on private sector with PSU’s share in UIP procurement miniscule or nil in 2014-15 and 2015-16 (See Box)
The Government had shut down Central Research Institute (CRI), Kasauli, BCG Vaccine laboratory (BCGVl) in Guindy in Chennai and Pasteur Institute of India (PII) in Coonor in 2008 after they were found to be not complying with the statutory norms.
The entire UIP demand for BCG vaccines, meant for tuberculosis, was being supplied by BCGVl, established in 1948, while entire demand for Tetanus Toxoid (TT) vaccine was being met by the PII and the CRI .These two institutes were also supplying almost 90 per cent of the DPT vaccine needed for the UIP.
Following intervention from the Supreme Court, the three PSUs are being revived since 2009, but they are yet to operate at their installed capacity.
Taking strong note of this overdependence on private manufactures, a Parliamentary panel has asked the Government to take steps to boost home production so that the supplies on account of any unforeseen crisis in private commercial production is not disrupted and the health security of the citizens is ensured.
The observation of the panel led by Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav came after it noted that while the Government’s three vaccine producing institutes at Coonor, Chennai and Kasauli were yet to functional fully, it is the private sector that has supplied most of the total requirement of jabs for 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Besides, the Committee also took exception that the DCG (I) has been repeatedly not approving the good manufacturing practices (GMP) facilities of CRI on one pretext or another, said the report tabled in Parliament recently.
The Committee has urged the Government to upgrade the facilities so that the dependency on private vaccine manufacturing units can be reduced by utilising the installed capacity at public sector vaccine manufacturing units to their optimum.
The new GMP facility of CRI, Kasauli for production of DPT, TT, DT vaccines has been commissioned and validated in August 2012. Thereafter, DCG (I) approved the new GMP facility in December, 2012. Production has commenced from June, 2014.
However, once the vaccine producing institutes upgraded to GMP standards are fully made operational it will reduce considerable dependency on private manufacturers for the requirement of DPT group of vaccines and BCG vaccine for UIP, the panel noted.