Karnataka: Pvt hospitals urge govt to ensure ‘equitable distribution’ of Covid vaccines

Alleging that a few hospitals, especially those that are part of large chain of corporates, have taken a “lion’s share of state’s quota of Covid-19 vaccines”, the Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) in Karnataka Tuesday urged the state government to appoint a nodal officer to streamline the process.

According to PHANA Secretary Dr Rajashekar Y L, small and medium-scale private hospitals in the state are finding it hard to procure vaccines directly from the manufacturers. “Such hospitals are finding it difficult to place huge orders as per the demands raised by the vaccine manufacturers. With no retailer in between, these hospitals are forced to stay out of the vaccination process,” he told Indianexpress.com.

PHANA noted that small and medium-scale hospitals account for nearly 60 to 70 per cent of the state’s healthcare system. “With so many hospitals out of the vaccination drive, the pace of vaccination coverage and public accessibility is also affected. While the first two phases of Covid-19 vaccination was done in Karnataka by including nearly 1000 private hospitals, this has now dropped to nearly 50,” Dr Rajashekar pointed out. The present policy of vaccine procurement, hence, is keeping this segment at a disadvantage, he added.

He added, “If a nodal officer is appointed to facilitate the process, such hospitals can together submit indents that can be taken forward as a single invoice to the manufacturer.” Dr Rajasekhar then suggested, “After procurement, the office would also be able to ensure equitable distribution, similar to how Remdesivir distribution was successfully managed.”

Meanwhile, PHANA President Dr Prasanna H M urged the government to address such issues at the earliest. “It was these hospitals that dared the second wave and supported the government to contain the pandemic. Now, government inaction is serving them injustice,” he said.

Dr Prasanna noted that enabling vaccination at more hospitals would also contribute towards bringing down vaccine hesitancy while enabling more coverage in a shorter period of time. “Vaccine availability at hospitals where people go for their usual needs would also minimise vaccine hesitancy. With vaccines made available at hospitals at the shortest possible time after procurement, more population can be covered at a faster pace. Time is the essence here,” he explained.

At the same time, the Association has written to Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar to respond to the issue in a timely manner. “Kindly redistribute the existing allotment of the state’s quota of Covid vaccines to private hospitals. Also, please plan the usage of government stocks through private vaccination centres as it was done in the first two phases,” the letter mentioned.

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