Friday Dec 1, 2023
Friday Dec 1, 2023

Why does Nepal waste vaccines?

The unsafe storage of vaccines is resulting in the wastage of high amounts of vaccine doses in Nepal.

2022 Jul 25, 6:44, Kathmandu

Even though the initiation of various vaccination campaigns are making Nepal one of Asia's leading countries in terms of vaccinating its citizens, the proper use and storage of the vaccines received by Nepal still remains poor.

The 59th report of the Auditor General of Nepal published recently, shows that 78.8% of BCG vaccines were wasted in Nepal this fiscal year. Likewise, 2 million 95 thousand 398 BCG vaccines were wasted within a single year. Large numbers of vaccine doses of measles, rubella and other diseases have also been wasted in Nepal this year. These vaccines have been largely received from various donors and purchased by the Health Services Department of the Government of Nepal.

Vaccination has been prioritized by the Government of Nepal and the United Nations which have resulted in the reduction of many vaccine-preventable diseases. Nepal has launched a nationwide typhoid vaccine campaign that aims to cover all children between the ages of 15 months to 15 years to protect them from typhoid fever. Over 50,000 vaccination sites have been established across the country, which includes schools as well. With that, Nepal has become the first country in the South East-Asia Region to launch the typhoid vaccination campaign.
Similarly, Nepal began its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on 27 January, 2021, with one million doses of the Covishield vaccine, arriving from India. As of now, more than 20 million people in Nepal are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which is around 70 percent of the total population of Nepal. Nepal’s COVID-19 vaccination rate is higher than the global outreach of 62.2 percent. “It was a challenging task to operate immunization programs amidst the pandemic,” says Sagar Dahal, Immunization Section Chief, Ministry of Health and Population, Family Welfare Division.

The Department of Health Services, Nepal, has publicized Nepal’s vaccine storage problem in their report. The wastage rate of polio vaccines due to improper storage facilities is incredibly high. 77.98 percent of polio vaccines were disposed of in Nepal in the year 2010, as did 63.63 percent of measles vaccines in the same year.

Developing Nepal’s cold chain capacity is crucial in improving vaccine shortage. This includes cold rooms, refrigerators and freezers in vaccine storage facilities at the central, provincial, district and local levels. The availability of refrigerated containers for transportation and cold boxes are crucial to store the vaccine in an effective way. Currently, UNICEF Nepal, is working with the government to develop cold chain facilities in Nepal.

Vaccine storage in Nepal is very weak. The Government of Nepal has mandated using auto-disable (AD) syringes and safety boxes in all immunization activities. However, dry space for the storage of syringes and safety boxes is inadequate in some districts resulting in the wastage of vaccines. “Previously, we had a problem maintaining proper vaccine storage, but we have received support from the World Health Organization, which we hope will be a great help in implementing routine immunization programs,” says Dahal.

With commendable progress Nepal is making in the administration of vaccines, the lack of proper storage is still preventing the received vaccines from reaching the target population.


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