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HBV vaccine: need for debate

Akhil Bhartiya Grahak Panchayat, Centre for Enquiry Into Health And Allied Themes, Association for Consumer Action in Safety and Health, Forum for Medical Ethics Society, National Medicos' Organisation , Medico Friend Circle


Abstract

It is learnt that the central government is about to include Hepatitis B vaccination in the Expanded Programme of Imunisation. The Expenditure Finance Committee has recommended an allotment of Rs. 2,825 crore during the Ninth Plan for this purpose. This decision involves an annual expenditure of Rs. 565 crore, whereas the Central Government’s allotment in 1998-99 for control of malaria and tuberculosis was Rs. 290 crore and Rs. 105 crore receptively. In our view, the decision to commit hundreds of crores of rupees of taxpayers’ money is being taken without critically assessing the risk due to Hepatitis B virus (HBV) in the overall health scenario in our country; without estimating the cost-efficacy of this vaccine; without adequately studying its protective efficacy in Indian infants, and without seriously considering ways to substantially reduce the cost of the programme.

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