Thursday Dec 8, 2022
Thursday Dec 8, 2022

Govt plans to continue vaccination drive from third week of May

Govt making effort to procure medical supplies from abroad

2021 May 06, 18:54, Kathmandu
An elderly woman getting COVID-19 vaccine at the Ward Office in Pokhara Metropolitan City-6, Kaski district, on March 7, 2021. Photo: RSS

With the issuance of prohibitory orders in 56 districts including Kathmandu valley, the vaccination drive against COVID-19 has also come to a halt. The fact that the government has imposed a strict prohibitory order and halted the vaccination campaign has not helped in containing the spread of the coronavirus infection. In the past week, the Ministry of Health and Population has been recording an exponential rise in the number of daily cases and deaths related to the virus. 

People also seem to be confused about the government's plan and the way the various bodies formed to assist in curbing the transmission of the coronavirus have been functioning as all the hospitals treating COVID-19 patients have witnessed a shortage of beds. There are also reports of a shortage of antiviral medicines for patients receiving treatment at hospitals. Although the Department of Drug Administration had revealed that 3,000 doses of Remdesivir imported from Bangladesh were distributed to hospitals, many hospitals asked the patients to find the medicine themselves on Wednesday, it has been reported.

NepalNews did contact Minister for Health and Population, Hridayesh Tripathi, to learn about the government's further plans regarding the availability of hospital beds, medicines, and oxygen, and the vaccination drive but he asked us to speak to the spokesperson of the ministry. However, despite frequent calls, the spokesperson could not be reached. 

When we contacted State Minister for Health and Population, Nawaraj Rawat, he said the government is planning to continue with the vaccination drive from the third week of May (the first week of Jestha). However, he said the government is yet to form the mechanism for providing vaccination services. He said the government is expecting to receive another one million doses of Covishield vaccines from India which may arrive within the second week of May. Probably, only a few of the centres will be authorised to administer the vaccines by maintaining health safety protocols as the country has witnessed a sharp rise in daily cases and deaths due to coronavirus infection.

The government launched the vaccination drive on January 27 with one million doses of Covishield vaccines received from the Indian government on grant, on January 21. At the time, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had declared that all Nepalis would be vaccinated free of cost within three months. 

Likewise, on March 7, Nepal received 348,000 doses of vaccine through the United Nations' COVAX facility that targets to inoculate 20 per cent of the country's population.

Earlier, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and chief of the Health Coordination Department, Dr Jageshwor Gautam, had said that the government had been negotiating with Serum Institute of India to obtain at least 5 million doses for the next stage of the national drive against COVID-19. He said efforts were being made through high-level government-to-government dialogue. However, only one million doses of the total two million doses of purchased vaccines have been received so far, he said.

State Minister Rawat today said the vaccination drive will be continued with another one million doses of the vaccine.

According to MoHP Spokesperson Gautam, the government has a target to vaccinate 80 per cent of the total population and claimed that at least 72 per cent of the population will be inoculated through the national drive against coronavirus. As per the Central Bureau of Statics, the population of Nepal at present stands at 30,276,179.

Likewise, the Government of China also provided Nepal with 800,000 doses of Vero Cell on March 29 and the vaccination drive had started on April 7.

Meanwhile, the government has put effort to procure more medical supplies from abroad to control Covid-19.

According to Kiranraj Acharya, spokesperson at the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the government has been making effort to bring in necessary medicines, safety gears and medical appliances through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The government is procuring a total of 5,000 doses of 'Remdesivir' vaccines from Beximco Pharma in Bangladesh through the International Finance Corporation and Nepal Bangladesh Bank.

Likewise, the medical supplies worth Chinese Yuan 5 million to be provided by the government of China to Nepal were on the way. It has been learnt that the medical goods have already arrived in Lhasa.

The Health Ministry on Thursday reported 8,970 new cases of coronavirus infection, the highest daily record.

It has been reported that More than 6,288 oxygen cylinders and 1,411.5 litres of liquid oxygen were being used to treat the COVID patients.

As many as 31 hospitals have their own oxygen plants while three hospitals have oxygen tanks in the country. The hospitals can refill 2,549 oxygen cylinders on a daily basis.

There are 472 hospitals, 19,882 beds and 1,714 ICU facilities and 692 ventilator facilities in the country where COVID patients are being treated.


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