National Centre for Disease Control Bangalore reports an acute shortage of ARV units since three years.
Bengaluru: State-run and privately-owned veterinary hospitals in Karnataka are falling short of rabies vaccine. These hospitals are facing a shortage of ARV units that is anti-rabies vaccine since 2018. According to these hospitals, the issue has been taken up with the Drug controller general of India but not much has been done so far. “We have had to turn away people before when they came for their dog’s vaccination and that’s because of the shortage. There are four ARV manufacturers in India. There has been no positive response from the drug manufacturers to the tender we floated in November and then in January regarding an increase in the supply of ARV units,” says the Public Relations Officer, Shalini Pandey, of Cessna Veterinary Life, a privately owned veterinary hospital in Domlur, Bangalore.
According to National Centre for disease control (NCDC) Bangalore branch, Karnataka has seen 884 cases of rabies from 2019 till 2021. State-run veterinary hospitals still have sufficient funds disbursed under Arogya Raksha Samithi and the National Health Mission for procurement of essential drugs. However, due to the lack of schemes for private veterinary hospitals, the process of procurement of these essential drugs is long and tedious. The Public Relations Officer of NCDC Bengaluru branch, Varsha M, says, “Karnataka requires 1.5 lakh of ARV stocks but we barely receive 1.2 lakh units. These come from Kerala and Tamil Nadu.”
Experts say that Karnataka is not the only exception when it comes to the acute shortage of anti-rabies vaccines. They also state that gross under-reporting of deaths, poor surveillance and data-keeping coupled with a shortage of ARVs has led to the deaths of rabies patients. A veteran veterinarian Dr Dheeraj B SAYS, “We need more schemes and elaborate plan chart of attainable goals for private veterinarian hospitals. Centre must introduce such schemes that could support the micro-level management offered by these hospitals.”
ARV manufacturers are now looking at stepping up the production of these vaccines to 1.5 crore doses annually to battle the shortage. On the other hand, dog owners still await easier accessibility to the vaccines.