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Rabies in India: Acute Shortage of vaccine causing loss of human lives

While 36% of the world’s rabies death occur in India, we still don’t have enough stock of Anti-rabies vaccines to curb the menace.  

A shortage of anti-rabies vaccines have led to increasing havoc in the city of Ambikapur, Chhattisgarh. In the last 184 days, 1103 cases have been registered of people who have been bitten by stay dogs in Medical college, Ambikapur. 

“The dog entered my house and bit me. I was sleeping then. He bit me on my hand”, said Bulli Bai, from Ambikapur village, who came to the hospital for injections. 

With an estimate of 35 million stray dogs in India, the government has failed in coming up with any large scale intervention plan or sterilization programmes to curb or prevent people from rabid-animals.  India’s death toll due to rabies is highest in the world with over 21,000 deaths every year, and 59,000 deaths worldwide. 

Dr. Ravikant Das, who is a Joint Director cum Medical Superintendent, in Chhattisgarh Medical Services Corporation (CGMSC) explained that from the past six months the regular supply of the rabies vaccine has stopped. “They have supplied 100 vials in between. On other occasions, they have given 10 and 20 vials. But our daily requirement is around 25 vials”, added Dr.Ravikant Das. The situation of shortage here is not because India produces fewer vaccines, however exporting the vaccines are creating a shortage for us. India produces 50 million Anti-rabies vaccines, against the demand of 48 million anti-rabies doses. In spite of that, there is a shortfall of 13 million, as we export 30% of our vaccines. 

“If CGMSC doesn’t provide us we have to buy from our suppliers whose tender has been passed. We have already placed the order. But they say that there is a shortage in the whole country, and so are unavailable”, said Dr. Ravikant Das.  

According to the latest PLOS study, India had vaccinated just 15% of its dogs. What we inevitably require at this moment is a mass anti-rabies vaccination for dogs. 

To help people get vaccinations readily available in the hospital, request our readers/viewers to call T.S. Singh Deo, Health Minister, Surguja, Chhattisgarh on 91-9425254054. 

Video made by Community Correspondent Prakash Gupta.

Article by Grace Jolliffe, a Member of VV Editorial Team.

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