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India launches immunisation drive

vaccinesNEW DELHI: On World Health Day, India will launch its expanded immunisation programme – Mission Indradhanush – that targets to vaccinate 90% of India’s 2.7 crore children against seven life-threatening diseases by 2020.
Beginning April 7, millions of frontline workers – vaccinators and community mobilisers – will start tracking and vaccinating close to one crore missed children in 201 high-risk districts in the “polio-mode” that helped India eliminate polio despite the virus thriving in neighbouring Pakistan and Afghanistan.

India’s last polio case was reported on January 13, 2011.

“Although India’s immunisation programme is one of the largest in the world, we still need to expand the scope to ensure that no child is left without this protection.

“It is the right of every child to be fully immunised against disease,” said Union Health Minister JP Nadda.

“Special vaccination campaigns will be conducted for 7 days, starting April 7, and will be repeated on the same date for four consecutive months to cover all children less than two years of age and pregnant women for the tetanus vaccine,” said Nadda.

India’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) – which vaccinates children against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis B – currently fully covers only 65% of the country’s children.

Of the 89 lakh children who do not receive all the vaccines, 17 lakh never get any vaccination at all.

Unvaccinated or partially-vaccinated children run a 3-6 times higher risk of death as compared to fully immunised ones.

“Immunisation coverage has increased by only 4% in the last 4 years (at the rate of 1% per year), which has prompted the Centre to launch Mission Indradhanush with a target of vaccinating 90% children against all seven life-threatening diseases by 2020,” said a Union Health Ministry official, who did not want to be named.

Nearly 25% of unvaccinated children are in 82 districts in four states — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

A national-level monitor has been assigned for each of the 201 high-priority districts to ensure no children are missed because of issues like lack of access to vaccines, information or migration.

“A national control room in Delhi will coordinate with state nodal officers to get daily updates and coordinate with the national level monitors to collect, compile and analyse the data from each district,” the official added.

Third-party monitoring at the vaccination site and at the community level will be done by the World Health Organization Country Office using 225 field medical officers, nearly 900 field monitors and more than 1,000 external monitors, who will be supported by partner agencies such as UNICEF and CORE. – From Hindustan Times

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