New Delhi: The introduction of the Rotavirus vaccine in India is one of the most pro-people decisions as it has the potential to drastically reduce infant mortality, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said Wednesday.
Rotavirus is the primary cause of moderate to severe diarrhoea, morbidity and mortality for children less than five years of age in India, he said at the 11th International Rotavirus Symposium here.
By including the Rotavirus vaccine under the the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) along with Japanese Encephalitis, Rubella and Polio, the central government has sent a sharp signal of its commitment to the common people.
"Earlier Rotavirus vaccines were expensive and beyond the reach of ordinary Indians. We are losing 52 children per 1,000 live births every year," the minister said.
"On top of that Rotavirus Diarrhoea snatches at least one lakh. This government did not lose time before introducing the vaccine in the UIP. The plan of action on its deployment has also been put in place," he said.
Beginning 2015, the Rotavirus vaccine will be introduced as an additional dose along with the first, second and third doses of DPT vaccine in the UIP.
It is also proposed to establish an expert committee to assess the progress in a few states and union territories on the basis of the disease burden and vaccine availability.
Harsh Vardhan said: "Meeting the Millennium Development Goals is not an end in itself. After assuming office, our government has launched a systematic study to make the public health care system user-friendly and accountable.
"The doctors have been told to work ahead of the deadline for meeting infant and maternal mortality targets."
Besides, the minister said indigenous research would be given a big fillip under the new government.