Bangkok / DPA
The National Health Security Office (NHSO) has planned a budget of 1.89 billion baht (US$53.78 million) for vaccination purposes in the coming fiscal year.
If the budget gets the green light, hundreds of thousand girls will get human papillomavirus vaccines (HPV) to boost their protection against cervical cancer, one of the
nationâ€™s major killers.
â€œWe have planned to include the HPV in the 2017 fiscal year,” National Health Security Office (NHSO) acting secretary general Dr Prateep Dhanakijcharoen disclosed last week.
He said if negotiations with suppliers could lead to a lower vaccine price, it might be possible for state agencies to add some other types of free vaccines for children in the new fiscal year too. The 2017 fiscal year will start on October 1.
The budget of 1.89 billion baht will provide various types of free vaccines at state hospitals. Among them will be vaccines against mumps, polio, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, German measles (MMR URABE/MR), diphtheria, (DTP-HB), plus HPV. Authorities have promised to ensure the country will have vaccine stock that lasts for three monthsâ€™ use at any time. Prateep has expressed a hope that if the prices of planned vaccines came down during the procurement process, it might be possible to add some new vaccines to the list.
â€œWe are considering ROTA and Hib vaccines,” he said. He reckoned it would take some time for additional vaccines to become available in the NHSO-provided services because in addition to budget issues, they must also undergo a time-consuming process of registering on the national drug list.
Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe acute gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhoea) among children worldwide. Hb vaccine prevents serious infections caused by a type of bacteria called Haemophilus influenzae type b. Such infections include meningitis (an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia (lung infection), and epiglottitis (a severe throat infection).
NHSO is responsible for procuring and distributing vaccines in support of the Public Health Ministryâ€™s disease control plan.
In 2016 fiscal year, the NHSO spent 957 million baht on basic vaccines and 337 million baht on flu vaccines. In all, it was issued a budget of 1.29 billion baht for the vaccination.
The budget will grow further in the coming fiscal year because the NHSO will need 300 million baht for HPV.
The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) usually helps with the bidding and procurement process.
Thanks to efficient vaccination, Thailand has successfully combated several diseases. For example, not a single polio case has been detected in the country during the past 18 years.
National Vaccine Instituteâ€™s director Dr Charung Muangchana agreed with the idea of including HPV, Rota and Hib in the free vaccination plans.
NHSO organised a media trip to India to let reporters see first hand the manufacturing facilities of its quality supplier, the Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd.
Headquartered in India, it is the worldâ€™s largest vaccine manufacturer, calculated by the number of children protected globally.
â€œIn terms of price, vaccines made in India are much cheaper than those in Europe,” Disease Control Departmentâ€™s deputy director general Dr Opart Karnkawinpong said during the trip.
The Serum Institute of India has about 3,000 employees. Of them, more than 100 are doctorate-degree holders.
With an annual capacity to produce 1.3 billion doses, Serum Institute of India has supplied vaccines to various countries around the world including the United States, Germany, and China.
Thailandâ€™s GPO has bought five types of vaccines from the Serum Institute of India.
â€œWe plan to expand our contact and collaboration with Thailand in the future,” the Indian firmâ€™s chairman and managing director Cyrus S Poonawalla said.
He said Serum Institute of India bought a research on dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) from Thailandâ€™s Mahidol University last year for further development.
DHF is common in Thailand. In severe cases, it can cause death. Tridsadee Sahawong, a beloved actor, was among patients who succumbed to DHF and its complications. His death significantly raised public awareness of DHF and its dangers. Charung said a committee was now studying the feasibility of using DHF vaccine in Thailand.