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Monday, August 02, 2021

After Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand says cut private vaccine share

As per the new vaccination policy that rolled out on June 21, 25% of the shots are to be provided to private hospitals, which can charge a fixed amount as service rate above the price of the vaccine.

Written by Abhishek Angad | Ranchi |
Updated: July 1, 2021 5:45:43 am
The remaining 75% goes to the government, which is providing the shots free of cost. (Representational)

NOTING that 75% of the state’s population lives in rural areas with negligible reach of private hospitals, the Jharkhand Health Department has written to the Centre seeking that their share in Covid vaccination be reduced from 25% to 5%.

In a letter dated June 28, the department has said that this “artificial tie up of 25% vaccination in private hospitals”, despite knowing that the demand in such hospitals is negligible, may lead to “deprivation”.

As per the new vaccination policy that rolled out on June 21, 25% of the shots are to be provided to private hospitals, which can charge a fixed amount as service rate above the price of the vaccine. The remaining 75% goes to the government, which is providing the shots free of cost.

Earlier, Odisha had urged the Centre to cut private hospital share in vaccine allocation to 5% on the same grounds, saying that very few in the state are going to private hospitals for shots. Tamil Nadu M K Stalin recently said the share of private hospitals should be cut to 10% given the actual vaccinations carried out by them.

In the letter, Jharkhand Additional Chief Secretary, Health, Arun Singh wrote: “… In the state of Jharkhand, more than 75% population lives in rural areas which have negligible reach of private hospitals. Even in cities where private hospitals are available, on account of lack of purchasing parity, demand for Covid-19 vaccine on payment basis is very limited as Below Poverty Line population across the state is more than 37%.”

The letter noted that 12 districts in Jharkhand are notified as tribal districts and 19 as Left Wing Extremism-affected, out of 24 districts. “At least 95% of the vaccines for the state of Jharkhand should be allocated from the government route to enable equitable distribution of vaccines. This would also ensure adherence to the Constitutional mandate of equity, equality and reasonable opportunity for all citizens. ”

The letter added: “The overall objective of the government is to achieve 100% vaccination, leaving no one behind, at least in the possible time frame… The said mandate (of 25% for private hospitals) needs to be reconsidered keeping in view the doctrine of colourable legislation (What cannot be done directly, should also not be done indirectly).”

Singh told The Indian Express they are yet to receive a response from the Centre. “Approximately 80,000 doses are available as of now in the 75% route. At private hospitals, the demand is less than 5 lakh doses (per month).” In April and March, the state had put its total requirement at 10 lakh doses each.

In the letter, the Additional Chief Secretary wrote that the share of private hospitals in total vaccinations in the state was “less than 2%” till April 30.

Singh wrote that they had held a virtual meeting with private hospitals across the state on June 16 to check the demand. “As a matter of fact, only three private hospitals in the state ordered for vaccines in the earlier scheme of vaccination for the age cohort of 18-44 years, that too minimal quantities, and had to struggle to utilise the available stock.” In the earlier scheme, only 50% of the vaccines were being routed through Central government route, and states had to compete with private hospitals for remaining procurement.

As of June 30, according to the state Health Department data, only 14% in the 18-44 age group in the state had received a single shot of Covid vaccine. The state has 33% vaccinated in the 45-59 group and 42% in the 60-plus group. More than 90% of the frontline and health workers are vaccinated.

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