Big chains cornering all vaccines: Small hospitals

Finding it difficult to procure vaccines independently, small and medium-sized private hospitals in Karnataka now want the State government to regulate supply by appointing a State nodal officer for vaccines.

Upset that a few hospitals, especially large chain corporate facilities, have grabbed the lion’s share of the 25% quota made available for the private sector in each State, doctors from small and medium-sized hospitals allege that they have been deprived of vaccine supply due to this.

No vendor involved

As of now, vaccines are directly supplied to hospitals from the manufacturers and there are no distributors/vendors involved. “The companies are not even accepting our orders as of now and supply is not forthcoming. The whole system is opaque and even organisations like PHANA, FHA-K and AHPI are finding it difficult to procure vaccines in the 25% private hospitals quota in spite of our best efforts,” R. Ravindra, Medical Director, Suguna Hospital, told The Hindu.

“There is no plausible reason for the government to allow private hospitals to buy 25% of the vaccines directly from the companies, rather than to help the vaccine manufacturers and a few privileged hospital chains corner all the available vaccines,” alleged Dr. Ravindra, who is the former president of PHANA. Frequent policy changes with regards to age of population to be immunised, duration of spacing and restrictions on pricing are not encouraging and are going to be detrimental to the vaccination drive, he said.

Zero stock

PHANA president H.M. Prasanna said currently there is zero stock in almost all small and medium sized hospitals in the city. “This is an injustice to hospitals who have equally shouldered COVID-19 management, especially during the second wave,” he said.

In a letter to the Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar, PHANA urged the government to intervene immediately and appoint a nodal officer to facilitate the purchase of vaccines by private hospitals. “This will ensure equitable distribution on the lines of Remdesivir distribution,” the letter stated. It also sought re-distribution of existing allotment of State’s quota to private hospitals.

No competition

Sudarshan Ballal, chairman, Manipal Hospitals, said there should be no competition among private hospitals. “In my opinion there has to be an equitable distribution among all private hospitals. However, there is a limited supply even for chain hospitals and some of us are not getting the total number of doses that we have asked for,” he said. As the situation is dynamic and the Centre’s strategy for vaccination has changed many times, one of the best options is to procure through associations like PHANA, he said.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 8:01:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/big-chains-cornering-all-vaccines-small-hospitals/article34764829.ece

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