8 Poorest States May Spend 30% Of Health Budgets For COVID-19 Vaccines
Organisation size: Small
Publication date: 10/05/2021
Credit: Shreya Raman, Shreehari Paliath
Shreya is an independent journalist based in Mumbai covering gender, health and public policy. In 2021, she was selected for the Global Nutrition and Food Security Fellowship by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), Tableau Equal Measures 2030 Data Journalism Fellowship and the Spotlight Media Fellowship.
Shreehari has reported on public policy around labour and employment, agriculture, water, health, and elections. He received a special mention at the 2019 Red Ink Awards. He has a post-graduate diploma from the Asian College of Journalism, and a master’s degree in development from Azim Premji University.
Our data analysis was on the Indian union government’s Covid-19 vaccination procurement policy for those aged 18-44 years. We found that passing procurement costs to state governments would significantly impact state government finances particularly in some of the poorest and least developed states in the country.
The analysis was republished by various media outlets and cited in the widely popular Hindi primetime news show by 2019 Ramon Magsasay Award winning journalist, Ravish Kumar.
We relied on the government’s population projection for 2021 based on the 2011 polulation Census to calculate relevant age groups for vaccination. In order to calculate costs we relied on budget estimates for various states, public information shared on social media by state goverments, and government approved retail costs for vaccines and central government’s vaccination portal . We used Google sheets for calculations and Infogram to create charts.
What was the hardest part of this project?
There was criticism against the government and concern about the impact of providing only 50% of the vaccinations through central procurement. Considering the exisiting financial constraints and inadequate health infrastructure and budget, vaccinating millions in some of the poorest and least developed states in the country would be a challenge.
Data on the age groups had to be seperately calculated based on population projections. Further, we did not receive responses or comments from any state goverment officials despite repeated requests which limited our access to state government strategy on vaccination.
What can others learn from this project?
Our intent was to inform readers about the gaps in vaccination policy expansion and costs incurred by states at a time when Covid-19 cases and fatalities were high. Our story offers an insight on how, with limited data, we can inform readers on the gaps in health policy during a pandemic.