Crucial Vaccines Out of Reach for Many in Rural India

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Union health ministry’s ambitious Mission Indradhanush to immunise children against various diseases faces a major challenge as the Hib vaccine to safeguard the little ones from deadly infections like meningitis, pneumonia and severe throat conditions remains out of the reach in vast areas of the country.

The Haemophilus Influenzae Tybe b (Hib) was added in the bouquet of vaccines to be administered under Mission Indradhanush. But experts argue that even outside the programme, very few children in the country have been covered by this vaccine whose penetration in rural areas is as low as four per cent.

The vaccine has been available in the country since 1997.

Poor coverage

A recent data released by Boston University School of Public Health of the US and the Indian Institute of Public Health, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), showed that the vaccine has hardly been used in the country. “The overall statewide Hib vaccine coverage was found to be four per cent, ranging from a minimum of 0.3 per cent in Assam to a maximum of 4.6 per cent in Punjab and Haryana,” said Dr. Sanjay P. Zodpey of the Indian Institute of Public Health.

The study covered the entire country – Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Eight out of 29 Indian states have public sector delivery of Hib-containing pentavalent vaccine. The Centre initiated a phased public sector introduction of a Hib (and diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus)-containing pentavalent vaccine in December 2011 only in two states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Source: Business Today (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
infectious diseases, vaccines