Vitamin A dose programme resumes after 2 years

Taluk Supervisor Rangarao Kulkarni Aikura in God Primary Colony of Raichur. (DH Photo)

Vitamin A supplementation programme is set to return this year after a break of nearly two years. The project was halted after the manufacturers refused to supply the supplement at the price fixed by the government.

The department began to provide the vitamin supplement to children based on a survey conducted in 2003. Till recently Vitamin ‘A’ deficiency was linked only to night blindness but recent studies have established that it can lead to immune deficiencies and also death, according to a note by the health department. 

Under this programme, all children from nine months to five years used to receive Vitamin ‘A’ supplement twice a year. The supplement was administered to infants along with Measles-Rubella vaccination to infants. 

However, manufacturers stopped the supplies after the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority fixed a certain price for their procurement.

"There was no response for tenders nor was the procurement happening. We had to stop this for two years because of this reason. The manufacturers told us that the cost of procuring raw material itself was too high and the government rates could not be agreed upon" said an official. Now the government has lifted the price cap for procuring the supplement. 

However, this year, the programme is already one and the second leg is scheduled for February 2020. All children aged nine months to five years will be administered Vitamin ‘A’ orally.

"To prevent night blindness related to Vitamin ‘A’ deficiency and reduce morbidity and mortality in children, Vitamin ‘A’ Supplementation Programme has been implemented," according to the health department.

While the supplement is made available in government hospitals, it is not given to children in private hospitals yet.  "We are requesting all parents to get the supplement in government hospitals" said Dr Rajini Nageshrao, Deputy Director, Nutrition, Department of Health and Family Welfare.

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