Shortage of vaccines for Haj pilgrims

It is incumbent and obligatory for the Government to take stock of an impending situation of some degree of abnormity and make foolproof arrangements to deal with it especially the one pertaining to matters of health when they are also critically tagged with some necessary formalities for visiting other countries where there was no scope for waiver or any sort of concessions therein. Vaccinating pilgrims performing Haj is a mandatory requirement as the same could in no way be dispensed with or avoided and the Government should beforehand make enough arrangements commensurate with the number of pilgrims from the country leaving for performing Haj. Needless to add, the desirous pilgrims going to Saudi Arabia are mandated to submit requisite certificates of vaccination which should have been administered no less than 10 days before arrival in that country.
This year, however, a problem of acute shortage of meningitis vaccine is faced by the Health Ministry. Since such vaccines are of much importance to generate enough immunity in the pilgrims to fight against the disease of meningitis, it is important that such vaccines were found to be genuine, effective and in no way sub-standard as the disease of meningitis is a serious one caused by many viruses and usually it is not contagious but bacterial meningitis is reported to be contagious. It is praiseworthy that purity and safety tests were conducted on the supplied vaccine which, however, was found contaminated and the only firm supplying these critical vaccines was asked to stop its production last year. The firm Biomed Pvt. Ltd had not only to stop the production of the vaccine as type-2 polio virus was found in the sewage and stool samples in Maharashtra, Talengana and Uttar Pradesh in September last year but its Managing Director was arrested and an FIR too was registered.
So far so good but the question is as to why the trend to keep all the eggs in one basket should be the policy of the Health Ministry in matters of backing on the lone supplier of the vaccine of such a critical nature? Why was not an alternate arrangement made immediately after the defaulting firm was asked to stop the production ? Why was the issue taken so lightly till the actual moment knocked at the doors of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare when these vaccines were required so badly. The shortage and the paucity of this medicine has more than one fallouts, starting with the scant supply against the huge demand and secondly, the financial aspect too as arranging the said vaccine from alternate sources would entail paying more for it.
We are given to understand that the import cost of this vaccine is six times as much as it was available locally. However, currently arrangements are in final stage to be finalized with two firms which import these vaccines so that the same could be supplied to the concerned agencies of the Health Ministry in time. In the meantime, to avert the problem of this nature, the Government besides arranging adequate number of vaccines for the present requirements, should find out other firms and companies , necessarily more than one which could locally produce this vaccine and licensing and other formalities should be expeditiously be attended so as to start the production as early as possible. We shall be monitoring the developments in the matter.