Immunisation needs a special push

Immunisation needs a special push

The importance of the programme cannot be exaggerated because India accounts for the maximum number of children — 7.4 million — who are outside vaccination coverage in the world.

The new immunisation drive, launched across the country last week, is an important programme that aims to immunise children under two years of age and pregnant mothers against eight vaccine-preventable diseases. Described as the Intensified Mission Indradhanush 2.0 and launched on December 2, it is an updated version of the programme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017. It aims to achieve full immunisation coverage in 272 districts across the country, and 90 % of all districts and the entire targeted sections. The programme has a three-month window between December 2019 and March 2020 to achieve the results. The plan is to reach all children below two years and pregnant women who were left uncovered by the routine immunisation programme and to ensure that no child suffers from any vaccine-preventable disease. The drive includes vaccines for Hepatitis B, tuberculosis, diphtheria etc which pose major threats to children’s life and health. 

The importance of the programme cannot be exaggerated because India accounts for the maximum number of children — 7.4 million — who are outside vaccination coverage in the world. The country also records over 26 million births in a year which is the largest number of births in the world.  The figures show the vital need to make vaccination available to every child and also the major challenge in doing so on such a vast scale. The mortality rate among children is high. Many of the deaths and disabilities caused by the eight notified diseases can be prevented by timely vaccination. This is among the most important public health objectives in the country and it has financial, social and demographic implications. It is also an important element in the country’s development strategy and is one of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2030.  The immunisation programme needed a special push because there were some gaps in its implementation. The programme has not reached some areas, especially in rural and tribal regions, because they are difficult to reach. Some communities and families have rejected it out of ignorance. Others have resisted vaccination because of superstitions and wrong notions. Some have believed that vaccination is a government programme to control the population by making people infertile. Religious sentiments have also been exploited to create resistance to the programme. It is necessary to educate people on the need for vaccination and create public awareness about it. Government efforts should be aided and supported by social and community groups and the civil society at large so that the campaign achieves its aims by the deadline set for it. It is also a continuing programme that calls for effective implementation and full success after that too. 

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