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India adds three free vaccines for kids

Monday, 7 July 2014 - 6:19am IST | Agency: DNA

In a fresh bout of relief for parents of newborn babies and young children, the union health ministry announced on July 3, the introduction of three new vaccines for children.

The ministry has said that it will roll out vaccines against rotavirus, rubella and polio virus under the universal immunization programme (UIP). This means that under the UIP, children will be administered the vaccines free of cost in government-run hospitals.

Rotavirus causes fatal diarrhea in children, especially in those less than five years of age. Diarrhea kills 80,000 children every year, especially under the age of five. 10 lakh children get hospitalized. Rubella virus causes measles in children as well as severe congenital defects in newborns, like blindness, deafness and heart defects. Two lakh babies are born with birth defects in India every year.

With the introduction of the new vaccines, India will now provide free vaccines against 13 life threatening diseases to 2.7 crore children born every year.

The leading causes of deaths in children between 0–5 years are infectious diseases like pneumonia, meningitis, malaria, dengue and diarrhea.

India's child mortality rate (CMR) stands at 57, which means that for every 1,000 live births, 57 children under the age of five die. By 2015, India has ambitiously targeted to reduce the CMR to
38, to meet the Millennium Development Goal 4 targets. The MDG 4 goals were set by the United Nations, 10 years ago. CMR of Mumbai stands at 32, but that's cold comfort as compared to Pathanamthitta district in Kerala, which has only nine deaths per 1,000 live births in under-five

children, whereas Chennai in Tamil Nadu has 15 deaths per 1,000 live births.

A little too late, but city doctors have welcomed the introduction of these vaccines in the health system."It is a welcome move by the central government. Infantile diarrhea and rubella to children and mothers will be avoided and will save many lives. Also, introduction of injectable polio vaccine in addition to oral polio drops will boost the immunity of children manifold and enhance the vaccine effect," said Dr Mamta Mangalani, head, department of paediatric medicine, Sion Hospital.

"Last year, the outbreak of dengue and malaria was huge. Children between 1 and 5 years are also exposed to eating outside food. Cases of viral diarrhea too increase. Jam-packed classes in schools and lack of aeration leads to contracting deadly infections," said Dr KP Sanghavi, a senior city-based paediatrician.

While BMC is yet to receive the circular of notification, doctors believe that if all goes well, the rolling out of vaccines should begin over the next two months in government hospitals.

  • With the introduction of new vaccines, India will provide free vaccines against 13 life threatening diseases to 2.7 crore children born every year. 
  • Childhood diseases pose an economic burden of Rs300 crore to the exchequer for treatment of sick and ailing babies as also pushes families below poverty line.
  • The ministry believes that introduction of these vaccines will prevent one lakh deaths of babies below one year of age.
  • Diarrhea kills 80,000 children every year, especially under the age of five.
  • 10 lakh children get hospitalized each year and two lakh babies are born with birth defects in India annually.
  • Rubella causes severe congenital defects in newborns, like blindness, deafness and heart defects.

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