Jharkhand urges Centre to allot 95 per cent of COVID-19 vaccines through government route

RANCHI: Citing “challenging circumstances” in vaccinating its entire population amid limited availability of private hospitals, Jharkhand has once again urged the Centre to alter the ratio and allot at least 95 per cent of the COVID-19 shots through the government route.

This comes close on heels of the Jharkhand government last month asserting that “artificial” tie-up of 25 per cent vaccination in private hospitals may result in many citizens missing the jabs and emphasising the need for reducing the allocation to private hospitals to 5 per cent from 25 per cent.

“We have again requested the Centre to reduce the allocation to the private hospitals to 5 per cent as a major constraint in the state is limited availability of private hospitals to cater the rural and tribal population,” Additional Chief Secretary Health, Arun Kumar Singh told PTI.

Private hospitals have made requisitions for procuring barely 1.20 lakh vaccine doses out of 8.28 lakh allocated for them for the month of July, he said, adding these requisitions came from hospitals in three districts only.

The state government has been emphasising that the mandate for 75:25 allocation format of COVID vaccines to the government and the private institutions needs to be reconsidered keeping in view the doctrine of colourable legislation (What cannot be done directly, should also not be done indirectly).

Singh in a letter to the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote: “This is to bring to your kind notice that in order to achieve 100 per cent vaccination, a major constraint in the state is limited availability of private hospitals to cater to rural and tribal population. It was requested to reduce the share of vaccination in private hospitals from 25% to 5% for the state of Jharkhand, against which, response is yet to be received.”

Asserting that the state left no stone unturned in vaccinating eligible population in least time frame, Singh said private hospitals in the state have made request for procuring less than 15 per cent of the allocation earmarked for them for the month of July.

He also mentioned that only 19 private health facilities from three districts have come forward for procurement out of 24 districts in the state.

“As per allocation received from Government of India, 8,28,390 doses of COVID-19 vaccine are earmarked for private hospitals for the month of July 21. Against the aforementioned allocation, till date, requests from only 19 private facilities across 3 out of 24 districts of the state have been received from procurement of vaccines aggregating only 1,20,600 doses for the month of July which is less than 15% of the quantity earmarked by Government of India,” the letter mentions.

The state urged the Centre to correct the anomaly expeditiously to facilitate total vaccination of all the eligible beneficiaries.

“In light of the above facts and challenging circumstances, it is once again requested to reduce the share of vaccination in private hospitals and allocate 95% vaccines to the state of Jharkhand from the government route to enable equitable distribution of vaccines,” the letter said.

The state government has earlier pleaded that its more than 75 per cent population living in the rural areas have negligible reach to private hospitals.

Earlier, the Odisha government had also sought tweaking the share of vaccines to 95:5.

The state had said, even in cities where private hospitals are available, on account of lack of purchasing parity, demand for COVID-19 vaccine on payment basis is very limited as Below Poverty Line (BPL) population across the state is more than 37 per cent.

It said the overall objective of the government is to achieve 100 per cent vaccination, leaving no one behind, at the least possible time frame.

The revised guidelines for implementation of the National COVID Vaccination Programme issued by the Government of India states that vaccine manufacturers shall provide 25 per cent of the production to private hospitals who can administer the vaccine on payment of vaccine purchase price and applicable service charge per dose.

In Jharkhand of the 24 districts in the state, 13 districts are notified as Tribal districts and 19 districts are listed as Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts wherein hesitancy in vaccination has been a key challenge in the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive.