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Home Health & Fitness Govt ‘gags’ states on vaccine data - ET HealthWorld

Govt ‘gags’ states on vaccine data – ET HealthWorld

A health ministry letter to all states and UTs warning that data on vaccine stocks and temperature at all levels of vaccine storage is “owned” by the ministry and should not be shared without its consent is being termed “a gag order” by public health activists.

The letter to state directors of the National Health Mission dated June 4 stated that data and analytics generated by eVIN (electronic vaccine intelligence network) for inventory and temperature (of vaccines) was “owned” by the ministry and that it was “not to be shared with any other organisation, partner agency, media agency, online and offline public forums” without the consent of the ministry. The letter added that it was “very sensitive information and to be used only for programme improvement”.

The letter elaborated that the eVIN system under the universal immunisation programme was rolled out by the central government with the support of UNDP and is “used to track the vaccine stock, status and temperature at all levels of vaccine storage, from national to the sub-district level”. All states are using the same system to update the stock and transactions of Covid vaccines on a daily basis, stated the letter.

“The caution against sharing information is certainly unusual as is the word “owned”,” said a senior bureaucrat who had retired from the health ministry. “People have the right to know and the state has the right and the responsibility to inform people about how much vaccines have been received from the Centre. In what way is this information sensitive?” asked Chhaya Pachauli, a public health activist from Prayas.

Amulya Nidhi of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan said it was against the principles of a public health emergency to issue such a letter. “In a public health emergency, you need to win the confidence of the people. If you hide data on oxygen supply, on deaths, on beds available and on vaccine stocks, how will you build public trust?” asked Nidhi.

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