The introduction of the Rotavirus vaccine in the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) should be considered one of the most pro-people decisions taken by any government in recent years because it has the potential to drastically reduce infant mortality, particularly among the poorest sections of society.
Observing this at the 11th International Rotavirus Symposium today, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, said Rotavirus is the primary cause of moderate to severe diarrhoea morbidity and mortality for children less than five years of age in India. By including it under UIP along with Japanese Encephalitis, Rubella and Polio, Narendra Modi Government has sent a sharp signal of its commitment to the aam admi, he said.
“Earlier Rotavirus vaccines were expensive and beyond the reach of ordinary Indians. We are losing 52 children per 1,000 live births every year. On top of that Rotavirus Diarrhoea snatches at least 1 lakh. This government did not lose time before introducing the vaccine in the UIP. The plan of action on its deployment has also been put in place,” he said.
Beginning 2015, the Rotavirus vaccine will be introduced as an additional dose along with the first, second and third doses of DPT in the UIP. It is also proposed to establish an expert committee to assess the progress in a few states and union territories on the basis of the disease burden and vaccine availability.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “Meeting the Millennium Development Goals is not an end in itself. After assuming office our government has launched a systematic study to make the public health care system user-friendly and accountable. The doctors have been told to work ahead of the deadline for meeting infant and maternal mortality targets.”
Lauding the efforts of the scientific community, Dr Harsh Vardhan said indigenous research will be given a big fillip under the new government. “The government of Narendra Modi does not take decisions arbitrarily or on the basis populism, but relies only on evidence. Anything that is decided by the scientific community as good for protection of the lives of mothers and children will be dovetailed into the public health policy,” he stated.
Among those who shared the podium were Roger Glass, Director of Fogarty International Centre, United States, Dr Mathuram Santosham, ROTA Council, John Hopkins University, and K Vijay Raghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology.
Lov Verma, Union Health Secretary, said on the occasion that the Janani Sishu Suraksha Yojana, a programme under the Ministry of Health, provides institutionalised delivery services to millions of women in rural and urban areas of the country. He stated that the Ministry implemented an Integrated Diarrhoea Control Fortnight between 28 July and August 8. But seeing the need for continuing with it, the programme has been extended till further notice.