More than one in five deaths of children under 5 in the world happen in India. More than half of these deaths are due to vaccine preventable and treatable infections such as pneumonia, diarrhea and sepsis. India's infant mortality rate is 39 meaning about 9.9 lakh babies die within one year of birth mostly from preventable causes.
To overcome its high child mortality rate India has added four new vaccines to its universal immunization programme besides providing free vaccines against 10 life threatening diseases to 27 million children through more than 9 million immunization sessions each year. Unvaccinated children are more at risk of dying before their 5th birthday making vaccines the most cost-effective public health intervention to prevent diseases and death. Immunization has helped bring down the annual mortality of children under five from 3.3 million to 1.3 million deaths that is 17000 deaths each day.
India has highest number of unvaccinated children in the world with 89 lakh children not receiving all vaccines and 17 lakh not getting vaccinated at all. Till 2014 only 65% children were fully immunized getting three doses of the DPT or pantavalent vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenza type b till the age of 2.
The government of India launched Mission Indradhanush in 2014 in order to fully immunize 90% of India’s 26 million children till the age of 5.Four new vaccines including PCV vaccine, a vaccine against polio, rotavirus vaccine against diarrhea, rubella against measles and the pneumococcal vaccine against pneumonia will be rolled out in 2017.
Since the first phase of immunization in April 2015, 2.1 crore children have been vaccinated against 10 preventable diseases –polio, childhood tuberculosis, hepatitis B, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, pneumonia and diarrhea and measles across India. Of them 55 lakh were fully immunized in 497 districts across 35 states and union territories. The main challenges to successful immunization are reliance on quacks that work against the government system or myths and beliefs. Parents lack awareness of benefits of vaccination. Shortage of trained personal in the remote areas also a leading factor.
Source: A shot at life for every child, Hindustan Times, December 9, 2016