NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government, which claims that monetary resource is never a problem for health programmes, has asked for Rs 100 crore loan from an international organisation for procuring polio vaccines.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare admitted to this in response to a query in Parliament, saying the government had asked the Global Vaccine Alliance, an international organisation that helps in immunisation programmes in poor countries, for “support” for the next three years.
The loan has been sought due to revision of prices of injectible polio vaccine in the international market, the House was informed last week. The price of Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) had seen a 80 per cent increase since 2016, Minister of State for Health, Aswhini Choubey, told Parliament.
The government has sought support from GAVI for IPV “to the extent of 50% of annual requirement” for next three years, the reply said.
India introduced IPV in its immunisation programme in 2015, in addition to the oral polio vaccine that was started in 1995. The Indian government buys IPV only from Sanofi, a French pharma major.
Telangana Rashtra Samiti MP Vinod Kumar Boianapalli, who had wanted to know whether “the government has sought funds to the tune of `100 crore from an international donor to bear the cost hike”, said the move was a “national embarrassment”.
“Why can’t the government invest in strengthening health machineries so that public sector manufacturers are allowed to produce the vaccine in the country itself?” he asked. “In that case, the embarrassment of begging for money for buying life-saving vaccine for our children can be avoided.”