Until last year, Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital used to get around 200 patients daily for anti-rabies vaccination. This number has grown manifold over the last six months and on Monday it crossed 1,000. Hospital authorities blamed the unavailability of anti-rabies vaccine at state and municipal corporation-run hospitals for this surge and said if the vaccine wasn’t made availabile at all centres soon, it could lead to a fullblown crisis
“There is a limit to how much we can stretch our resources,” said Dr V K Tiwary, the medical superintendent of RML hospital. At Safdarjung hospital also, which is run by the Centre, officials said there has been significant increase in the rush of patients for the vaccination. Anti-rabies vaccine is needed to prevent the development of disease in persons who have been bitten by an infected animal, The first dose of anti-rabies vaccine has to be injected within 24 hours of the bite — the sooner the better. However, people who had queued up at RML on Monday said they had been running from one hospital to the other in search of the vaccine but to no avail. “I went to two government hospitals in east Delhi. Both said they didn’t have the vaccine. I cannot afford private treatment,” said Kavita Singh, a resident of Mandavali, east Delhi. While government hospitals give anti-rabies vaccine for free, it costs nearly Rs 1,500 for five jabs at private facilities. For patients with severe and deep bite, the administration of anti-rabies serum is required in addition to the vaccines, which costs above Rs 2,000. Authorities in at least two big state-run hospitals — Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) in East Delhi and Lok Nayak in central Delhi — confirmed the crisis. “For the last two weeks, there is no anti-rabies vaccine in our hospital,” Dr Arvind Mohan, deputy medical superintendent of Lok Nayak hospital said. He claimed the shortage is from supply side itself. “The vaccine shortage has been there for almost six months but we were managing things by making local purchase initially. Now, even the local suppliers have given up,” Dr Mohan said. Dr Sunil Kumar, medical director of GTB hospital also confirmed they are also running short of anti-rabies vaccines. “We are issuing tenders to purchase the vaccine,” he said. There is no anti-rabies vaccine at municipal hospitals either, senior civic agency officials from both the north and the south corporation confirmed. “The government manufacturer is not supplying the vaccine from last few months due to nonavailability. Patients are either being told to purchase it privately or being referred to other hospitals,” said an official ,Delhi, as per the last annual report of all municipal corporations combined, had witnessed over 27,407 dog bite cases from February 2018 to February 2019. South Delhi was worst affected. Real numbers are expected to be much higher as the figures do not include patients that go to private clinic or hospitals that are not bound to report, said a source. In April, Safdarjung hospital had stopped accepting new cases of dog-bite due to the rush. “Situation has improved a little over the last few weeks. But steps are needed to restore or arrange supply of the vaccine in all anti-rabies clinics to avert crisis situation,” a doctor said.