The Financial Express

Health minister refuses to disclose vaccine cost

| Updated: November 18, 2021 19:53:44

Health Minister Zahid Maleque. File photo Health Minister Zahid Maleque. File photo

Despite previously announcing the price at which the government had bought the COVID vaccine earlier, Health Minister Zahid Maleque has declined to share information regarding the price at which recent doses were bought in parliament.

It would not be 'proper' to share the expenditure information as the vaccine doses were bought under a non-disclosure agreement, said the minister.

The minister did, however, mention the number of vaccine doses Bangladesh had already bought, reports bdnews24.com.

"The vaccines were bought with the highest competitive price and ensuring transparency," he said. 

On Thursday, Awami League MP Abul Kalam Azad made a query in the parliament on the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses and their purchase cost.

The Ministry of Health had posted advertisements in the media on Jul 9 sharing information on the cost of treating a COVID-19 infection.

The advertisement said the government had bought more than 10 million vaccine doses (as of then). As each dose cost Tk 3,000, the total purchase cost stood at Tk 30.45 billion.

More than 211 million vaccine doses have been bought already, the minister informed parliament in response to a question.

At least 77 million of them are from the Chinese company Sinopharma, 75 million from Sinovac and 30 million are the Covishield vaccine from India. Also, Bangladesh received 29 million Sinopharma vaccines under the COVAX programme.

In a bid to combat the COVID-19 crisis, the government has secured 294 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine. As of Nov 13, more than 84 million doses were administered. At least 51 million people have received the first shot, while 32 million people have also received the second shot, Maleque said in response to a question from Bhola-2 MP Ali Azam. 

No specific statistics on the number of people suffering from malnutrition is available, the minister said.

He, however, claimed that Bangladesh has had some success on the matter and tried to provide an idea of the situation by sharing BDHS statistics on the malnutrition of children aged five years, in response to a question from Dhaka-7 MP Haji Md Salim.

According to the data shared by the minister, 12 per cent of women aged between 15 to 49 years were underweight due to malnutrition in 2017-18. The figure had dropped from 30 per cent in 2007.

On the other hand, 32 per cent of women were overweight, which had shot up from 12 per cent.

Therefore, success is evident in combating the issue of malnutrition in terms of addressing the situation for women from the 15 to 49 age group, while the obesity problem has increased 32 percent.

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