National health authority CEO, Health News, ET HealthWorld


Vaccine wastage area of concern for government: National health authority CEONew Delhi: The wastage of coronavirus vaccine has been an area of concern for the government, national health authority CEO Dr Ram Sewak Sharma said on Friday, suggesting that consolidating smaller vaccination centres into larger ones can help address this issue.

Speaking at an event organised by the public affairs forum of India (PAFI), Sharma said India has manufacturing capacity but that does not mean vaccine wastage can be allowed.

He stressed that vaccination aims to cover people who need it and not those who want it, with the responsibility to prevent wastage lying with state governments and local authorities.

“The wastage of vaccine is an area of concern. We are lucky to have manufacturing capacity of vaccine but it does not mean we can waste the vaccine. Local management can reduce that part,” he said.

He also stressed on the need for consolidating smaller vaccination centres.

“There are other minor details like the need to consolidate vaccine centres into larger centres and if that happens then vaccination wastage will also reduce. Wastage takes place generally in the last vial. People at times not turning up after getting appointment is also an issue,” he said.

Sharma said there were some glitches in the Co-WIN portal initially, but they were ironed out in a couple of days and now “we have a very scalable system and there have been no glitches since March 1”.

“We also tackled the issue of security and business continuity aspects. Now, the government has involved the private sector in a big way so all the hospitals empanelled under the Ayushman Bharat or the central government health scheme or other private sector groups have been roped in the vaccination program and that is why we have been able to scale up to such large numbers,” he said.

Dr Sharma said the private sector has a huge role to play in the entire vaccination process, ranging from mobilising and creating awareness about the entire vaccination process and reducing hesitancy.

On a question on accelerating the country’s vaccination drive, Dr Sharma said the supply of vaccine, capacity to vaccinate and demand are crucial determinants.

The theme of the PAFI Dialogue was “Covid vaccination and the national digital health mission (NDHM)”.

Dr Sharma also highlighted the change in the Co-WIN digital platform from being a supply-driven response in the initial phase of vaccination of frontline workers and healthcare workers to being demand driven since March 2021, where the citizen can register and book an appointment schedule.

This change in digital system delivery is requisite for accelerating the speed of Covid-19 vaccination in the country, he said.

Talking about the global validity of the digital vaccination certificate issued by the government, Dr Sharma said, “The WHO is working on a standard which is called as fast healthcare interoperability resources (FHIR). They are designing and working on the format of the digital certificate including various aspects that a digital certificate should contain and digital verifiability of same. India since the beginning has aligned to it. As soon as they come up with the standard, we will be in full compliance with the FHRI standard. So, the digital certificate issued by India will be valid everywhere.”

Highlighting NDHM as an industry-led platform and stating the growth of teleconsultation, Dr Sharma said that currently “we are registering 6.2 million consultations per day and we aim to achieve 200 million consultations per day”.

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