KATHMANDU, JANUARY 18
Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population Roshan Pokharel today told the Education and Health Committee of the House of Representatives that 1,500,000 vaccine doses were unaccounted for.
When THT contacted Pokharel asking him why there was no record of 1,500,000 vaccines with the government, he said vaccine centres did not keep the records of approximately 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 vaccines they provided to the public.
"Health professionals vaccinated people, but they did not keep records of around 1,500,000 vaccines," he added.
This prompted the parliamentary committee to issue a directive to the government asking it to keep updated records of vaccines provided to the public.
Education and Health Committee Chair Jayapuri Gharti told THT that she was dismayed by the health secretary's response when he said that all records of vaccines provided to the public were not updated. "I have directed officials of the health ministry to ensure records of vaccines provided to the public are updated at the ministry every evening. Everybody from federal government to local governments should be responsible for the vaccines they provide to the population," she added.
In its 14-point directives, the parliamentary committee asked the government to increase inoculation centres to reduce crowd at vaccination centres. It also urged the government to ramp up PCR tests and widen the scope of contact tracing. The committee also asked the government to ensure that health professionals provide vaccines to children, elderly people, and differently-abled people in their own homes without requiring them to walk to vaccines centres.
Infectious disease expert Anup Subedee said it was an open secret that vaccines were being misused by government employees at the behest of powerful people. He said no government officials were being made accountable for their actions and hence people would witness more such incidents. "In the past two years, we have seen no effort from the leadership to make health ministry officials accountable for their actions. Employees who should be punished for their mistakes are being rewarded," Subedee added.
Parliamentary committee also directed the government to ensure enough vaccine storage facilities in all provinces.
It asked the government to ensure oxygen cylinders and ventilators in all hospitals.
Employees who should be punished for their mistakes are being rewarded Infectious disease expert Anup Subedee
A version of this article appears in the print on January 19, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.