`India needs to step up vaccination`

Last Updated: Jun 11, 2011, 00:00 AM IST

Washington: Vaccination has saved millions of lives but many countries, including India, need to take a stronger role in paying for and distributing vaccines to their children, the latest issue of Health Affairs says.

Despite being a leading producer and exporter of vaccines, India is home to one-third of the world`s unimmunised children, articles in the leading health, health care, and policy journal note.

Inadequate investment by the Indian government and hostility toward vaccination in certain communities are partly to blame, according to Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy and Nirmal
Kumar Ganguly, of the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, in New Delhi.

Reducing the burden of vaccine-preventable disease should be of the utmost priority, and India should increase its budget for routine immunisation by $221 million per year to potentially immunise an estimated 13 million more children, the authors say.

According to Lewellys Barker and colleagues at Aeras, tuberculosis cases will continue to burden India, China, South Africa, Nigeria, and other countries unless partnerships are successful in overcoming technical obstacles and securing the funding needed to push promising new vaccine candidates through safety and efficacy trials.

Noting that vaccinating children around the world against infectious diseases has saved the lives of millions over the past several decades, the Journal suggests new opportunities now exist to overcome remaining challenges-and save another 6.4 million lives over the current decade.

Creative product development and financing models have been critical in boosting vaccine development and bringing vaccines to developing countries, authors suggest.

As many as twelve new vaccines may be rolled out in the next decade against diseases such as typhoid, malaria, and dengue.

Researchers are at a critical point in vaccine development, but they will need to overcome a number of challenges in the near future. These include securing the financing needed to get potentially life-saving medicines over clinical and regulatory hurdles within the next three to five years.

The issue was produced under the journal`s grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which last year committed an additional $10 billion over the current decade to make life-saving vaccines available to millions of children.

IANS