The Kalimpong District Hospital has been reeling under an acute shortage of rabies vaccine for the past three weeks. It is learnt that patients are buying the vaccines from private pharmacies.
The information came to light after a dog bit one Bhim Badhur Rai, a resident of Mahakal Dara, around 2 kilometers from town, last night. Mr Rai had gone to the District Hospital for vaccination this morning.
“However, once the doctor checked me and sent me to the other room for vaccination, the staff there said that rabies vaccine was not available and that all he can do is give me a shot of the tetanus vaccine,” the patient’s son, Manoj Rai, said.
When inquired, hospital sources said that they were short of the vaccines for the past three weeks. Mr Rai said they had to buy the vaccine, but at higher rates at the pharmacy outside.
“We waited for the morning so that we could go to the district hospital where vaccines and medicines are provided for free,” he said.
However, the Superintendent of the District Hospital, Dr Ankan Simlandi, said the vaccine is not available in the ‘District Reserve Store’ (DRS).
“This means that there is a shortage of the vaccine in the entire Hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong,” he said.
“This is not just a problem at the Kalimpong hospital, it is the same with Darjeeling and Siliguri hospitals. It is also causing problems in Block areas. Last time, we borrowed the vaccines from the Pedong Hospital,” Dr Simlandi said.
He added that they locally purchased the vaccines earlier and gave them to the needy patients when the supply was stopped from the district (then Darjeeling).
“However, we do not have enough funds to go for local purchases now, but we have asked the district store to supply us the vaccines as soon as possible. They have responded by saying that the stock will be sent from the state on 20 April, and the districts will receive them after that,” Dr Simlandi said.
A shot of rabies vaccine costs around Rs 325-400 in the market, depending on the company that has manufactured the product, while the government hospital provides it for free.