At 40% immunisation deficit level, child mortality in India under severe threat!

Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group/ Delhi

If total immunisation has shown the way ahead for polio eradication in the country, then near about 40 percent deficit in immunisation for diseases such as measles, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus pose a serious threat to child mortality in the country.

India hasn’t reported a single case of polio for the second successive year in 2013. If the trend persists for another year, India will be declared polio free. In contrast, only 61 percent of children in India in the 12- 23 months age group are fully immunised, according to ‘The Coverage Evaluation Survey (CES-2009)’.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, more than half of all incompletely vaccinated children (those who did not receive Diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DTP3) lived in one of the three countries: India (32 percent), Nigeria (14 percent), and Indonesia (seven percent).

Detailing the reasons behind the poor implementation of the immunisation drive in India, Dr. Ashish Gupta, consultant pediatrics at Rockland Hospital, says , “Problem is at both the end: delivery level and receiving level. We don’t have motivated and committed health workers who can spread awareness about the importance of immunisation. Also, in India most children are delivered at home instead of the hospitals hence majority of the parents are uneducated about the immunisation drive.”

The government spent Rupees 571.31 crores in 2010-11 under the Universal Immunisation Programme for vaccination against six diseases. The bulk rupees 485.57 crore, however, went to the polio mitigation drive in 2010-11. More than 24 lakh vaccinators were involved in carrying out polio immunisation activities across India in 2011. However, the break up figure of vaccinators involved in immunisation campaigns for other diseases is not available.

Pointing out the reasons behind the government’s failure to incorporate the model of polio to curb other diseases causing child mortality, Dr. Gupta at Rockland Hospital says, “It was easy to eradicate polio because it existed only in humans but disease like tetanus exists in soil and animals so it becomes difficult to eradicate it completely though the spread can be minimised with sustained efforts.”

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