LAHORE - Punjab has made emergency airlift arrangements to ensure availability of anti-rabies vaccine (ARV) at health facilities across the province, an official at the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department said here on Thursday.

Arrangements for 4,000 doses have been made via emergency airlift through Ms. Hospital Emergency Corporation to meet the immediate needs. ARV is now available in Lahore and Rawalpindi. In Multan, supply will begin tomorrow. Supply from the National Institute of Health will begin in December next.

Pakistan has been facing ARV shortage for quite some time and several attempts have been made to overcome shortage.

The Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department advertised procurement tenders, but no response was received. The supply from the NIH faced delay due to technical reasons, thereby necessitating closer coordination between the provincial and federal government at the ministerial level for the supply of the ARV. The raw material by Indian and Chinese manufacturers faced international quality control checks and the upgrade process took longer than expected which has caused shortage across the region, hitting Pakistan severely.

The Anti Rabies vaccines are used for animal bites, most notably for dog bites, and save lives. Failure to inject the vaccine in time is usually fatal.

“Emergency arrangements for the availability of ARVs have been made and the vaccine is now available in Lahore and Rawalpindi. The provincial government took the issue with federal government at the ministerial level for the earliest possible provision of the Anti Rabies Vaccine in Punjab,” the source said.

The Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department has made necessary advance payments to the National Institute of Health to make available the said vaccine as early as possible. The procedures have been fulfilled and the supplies from NIH Islamabad, which faced delays due to unavoidable situation in international market, will begin from January 2019.

Given the situation, the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department has made emergency arrangements to airlift the ARVs  that will be made available at Lahore and Rawalpindi.

Further, the office of the Chief Drug Controller has also directed the leading eight supplies and importers to ensure the availability of the ARV in the local market.