Though India is the largest supplier of vaccines to the world (about 60%) , its domestic market is crippled, endangering the health of millions, especially children.

Thanks to a move in 2008 by Union Health Ministry, which has effected the Universal Immunization Program, says a report in ‘Down To Earth’, a fortnightly magazine of the Centre for Science and Environment

In 2008, the Union Health Ministry suspended licenses of the Central Research Institute (CRI) in Kasauli, BCG Vaccine Laboratory (BSGVL) in Chennai and Pasteur Institute of India (PII) in Coonoor. These three units together met 80% of India’s vaccine requirements.

” Because of this the country is reeling from a debilitating shortage of vaccines, which has severely affected its universal immunization programme,” said the report. It added that on average the availability of vaccines in different states has fallen between 10 and 30 percent.”

A Right to Information (RTI) filed by Down To Earth reveals that the closure decision followed a World Health Organization (WHO) inspection finding that units lacked good manufacturing practices.

“But the ministry refuses to explain why closure was necessary and why steps could not have been taken to improve the functioning of these units. In fact, our investigation finds that the ministry curtailed its programme to build capacity and improve the functioning of these units,” the report added.

It appears that government is aware of this issue, hopefully, they will take the right steps in the shortest possible time to help save the lives of many children. Read more here.