the Karnataka Lokayukta's revelations about inadequate stocks of an advanced rabies vaccine show that healthcare in the state -- at least in respect of hydrophobia -- is going to the dogs.
In a report to the state government, Lokayukta Justice N Venkatachala stated that tissue culture vaccine (tcv) is in short supply in Bangalore's government hospitals. tcv is used to treat rabies in human beings. It is more effective, though costlier, compared to the nerve tissue vaccine (ntv). While tcv costs Rs 200 per vial (five such vials are required per case), a single ntv injection is only for Rs 14 (13 such injections complete the course of treatment). Rules require government-run hospitals to provide tcv free to poor patients.
As per World Health Organization (who) expert committee recommendations of 1992, the ntv should be phased out. But a random survey of Bangalore hospitals by Down To Earth revealed that several hospitals stocked the vaccine. "We have stocks of both vaccines. We won't be phasing out ntv," said M Rajanna, medical superintendent, Victoria government hospital. In fact, municipal body Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (bmp) states that ntv is actually not bad. "I have not seen a single case of general reaction to the vaccine in the past 30 years," says Jayachandra Rao, chief health officer, bmp. He, however, hastens to add: "In accordance with the who directive, we are phasing it out. The last batch was supplied last month."
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