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Drug drought in death district

Behrampore, July 3: A week ago, the district hospital here told a dog-bite victim it had no anti-rabies vaccine. A poor farm labourer, Imam Hossain was asked to procure the life-saver from outside the hospital at a much higher price, or wait.

It is still the same story at the hospital and the rest of the district. A week after chief medical officer of health in Murshidabad Bijon Mondol said “there is no scarcity” of the vaccine and that he had signed requisitions for hospitals where there was a shortage, a crisis is staring at the face. A virtual drying up of supplies of the anti-rabies vaccine has forced the administration to place orders with private drug manufacturers. An increasing backlog of dog-bite victims waiting for the life-saving injection is threatening to balloon into a crisis.

On a visit here in the wake of a spate of child deaths last month, the chief minister had said there will be no dearth of essential medicines at government clinics.

“We are turning to funds available under the district health project to place orders for the vaccine with private companies. The zilla parishad has placed an order of 1,000 ampoules,” said chief medical officer Mondol.

District medical officer Indranath Chatterjee said they had placed an indent asking for 350 ml of the vaccine but received 50 ml, enough for one dog-bite victim. “The district hospital has about eight to 10 persons reporting to the outdoor every day with dog-bite wounds. We need 1,000 ml daily to clear the waiting list of 199 people awaiting the injection,” Chatterjee said.

The scenario is far from different in the subdivisional and rural hospitals. “I have over a hundred people, including children, waiting to be vaccinated. We received 40 ml of the serum, not even a complete dose for an adult,” said S.B. Goswami, the superintendent of the Jangipur subdivisional hospital. The hospitals at Lalbagh and Kandi are also reeling under the shortage. The Salar block hospital has more than 200 people awaiting the vaccine.

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