India to scale up its immunisation programmes: Azad

August 2nd, 2011 - 8:42 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) India will soon begin scaling up its immunisation programmes to reach out to remote regions of the country, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) high-level ministerial meeting here Tuesday.

“Vaccination is the most cost-effective public health intervention since it provides direct and effective protection against preventable morbidity and mortality. We plan to scale up all initiatives related to immunisation,” Azad said at the meet of the health ministers and delegates from nations of southeast Asia region (SEAR).

India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan and Sri Lanka are among the 11 member nations of the SEAR.

According to the health ministry, India runs one of the world’s largest immunisation programmes for the around 26 million children born in the country every year.

The meeting comes at a time when the WHO is all set to roll out an intensive immunisation programmes in 2012.

“About 10 million children still do not receive the third dose of DTP (combined vaccine against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus) vaccine in the region. Millions of children have no access to vaccines that are routinely given to children in the industrialised world,” said Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO’s regional director for South-East Asia.

Basic vaccines in routine immunisation includes four vaccines against six diseases such as BCG (vaccine against childhood tuberculosis), DTP (combined vaccine against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus), OPV (vaccine against polio) and measles vaccines.

The global health body is urging countries in southeast Asia to strengthen their regulatory bodies looking after public health. Measures such as investments on vaccines, introducing technologies, and training health workers to deliver life saving vaccines have also been listed in WHO’s programme.

The health ministry now aims at overcoming cultural and geographical barrier to sensitise people on the importance of basic immunisation.

“We have introduced vaccine for Japanese Encephalitis in 111 districts in 15 States having a high disease burden. Hepatitis B vaccine, earlier introduced in 10 States, is now being extended to the entire country,” Azad said.

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