Second Opinion

Vaccines ….its about setting our priorities right

shishirJuly 17, 2014

It was about the closing time of my consulting , I was about to pack off , the day’s work , when my receptionist called on the intercom to inform that there was patient who wants to show his three year old daughter , running high fever , but he looks poor and doesn’t seem to have money to pay your fees , she added in a soft ,concerning voice . I think you should see she requested . She has already offered her part of the charity and it was my turn to continue the favour . Only difference was that , hers was free charity . I asked her to send him in .

A few minutes later, a thin lean man , with stammering gait , entered into my consultation chamber . His attire was labour class and was holding a girl around three years on his shoulder. He carried a strong odour of some country made liquor and was so drunk that even standing straight was seeming an herculean task to him .

Looking at him I felt so agitated that I wanted to scream my lungs out but overtly only asked him with controlled anger

” you don’t have money to pay my fees  but you have enough to by yourself liquor ”

He replied ,” daaru to jaroori hai “

“Aur iski bimari ka kya ” I asked again .

“Iske liye to aap mibaap ho raham karo “.

The incidence cited above is neither new nor unique and in fact is of fairly common occurrence , but this surely reflects the mood of the nation  , when it comes to matters related to their health , reluctant  . Health is not a priority be it public or government. This is precisely the reason I felt saddened when I read an article in TOI by Rema Nagarajan published on 7th July . ” Are new costly vaccines needed “and the second one ,” lack of vaccine policy boon for private players “.

I don’t know how much experience author has , of grass root healthcare of India  , probably none . I doubt Rema has seen the suffering of babies affected with chickenpox or pneumonia or even rotavirus , otherwise , would not have dared to advocate cost cutting in vaccine , sector .

In a country which boasts of having one of the highest infant mortality and where healthcare spending is less than two percent of its GDP , this idea in itself is , nothing but ridiculous .

Out of n number of infectious disease which can slaughter our young generation only about fifteen odd are vaccine preventable and we are debating whether or not we should pass on their benefits to our young ones , Oh! Common , pity me and pity little babies .

Definitely this is not about the safety of these vaccines because each vaccine requires about twenty years of research and trial before it is licenced for public use . It is about the fact that we have not been able to set our priorities right .

The article says , that by introducing newer vaccines into  UIP the cost of vaccine related expenditure could go up to ten times , but then the same forgets the overall effect , such a prevention strategy , might have , in reducing the disease burden and thereby reducing the healthcare expenditure .

While there is no denying that stringent laws are needed , a little leniency , if at all is there , we should not make such hue and cry about this . If 27 million babies are born annually  ,India scores highest in allowing may of these to leave the world , even before they know what life is all about .

And why rattle about private player gaining a business margin by getting these newer vaccines included in national immunization schedule , after all they are only supplying vaccines and not liquor.

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