Bhojraj Neupane

Pokhara, February 23

Lack of the anti-tuberculosis vaccine, BCG, since the last month is affecting millions of children countrywide.

Surya Khadka, in the supply section of the Health Service Department (HSD) said stocks

ran out a month ago. According to Khadka the National Planning Commission used to allocate

Rs 50 million for purchase of the vaccine. This year, it sanctioned only Rs 30 million. Khadka also cited the absence of laboratories in the country for production of the vaccine.

A source said the HSD had invited tenders for supplying 15,000 vaccines but no contractor placed a quotation The source added the high cost of supplying vaccines was responsible for the lack of response.

Earlier, the United Nations Children’s Fund covered the expenses of the vaccines but since 2003 the government and UNICEF each had agreed to contributing 50 per cent of the required amount.

Becauseof shortage of fund, the department called bids to supply vaccines, the source said.

Khadka said the UNICEF was providing 10-15,000 vaccines each year.

Dr Senendra Raj Upreti said it was unfortunate that BGC vaccines were out of supply.

Child specialist, Dr Binod Tulachan, said tardy vaccination would reduce resistance against the tuberculosis bacteria.

Arjun Aryal of UNICEF denied there was any scarcity, adding stocks would last for another four months.

Krishna Bahadur Malla, technician of the vaccine sub-section of the HSD supply section, however, admitted to the shortage. "We informed more than a month ago but nobody cared to replenish stocks.According to staistics, Pokhara alone requires 900 vaccines a day.