Bhubaneswar: Ahead of the national launch of the rotavirus vaccine in the Universal Immunisation Programme, journalists from the national and State media discussed the importance of new vaccines in reducing under-5 child mortality and improving child survival at media round-table organized by the Health Department, Government of Odisha, and partners such as UNICEF.
Rotavirus, which causes diarrhoea, leads to approximately 78,000 deaths every year in India. It kills 1 child every 4 minutes in India and is a leading cause of under-5 child deaths in the country, contributing to about 40% of diarrhoea-related deaths amongst children.
About 8.7 lakh children are hospitalized annually in the country due to rotavirus-related diarrhoea. Odisha has an under-5 child mortality rate of 66 per 1,000 live births (SRS 2013), of which diarrhoea is a major contributor.
Addressing the journalists, Dr Nirmala Dei, Director, Family Welfare, Government of Odisha, said,
“Rotavirus vaccine offers the best hope for preventing the deadly dehydrating diarrhoea preventing thousands of deaths of young children. Earlier, the benefits of this vaccine were available only to those who could afford it, but now it would be available to every child in the state.”
Shalini Pandit, Mission Director, National Health Mission, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Odisha, said,
“Achieving full immunization coverage is critical in order to improve child survival rates. Frontline workers such as ASHA workers regularly mobilize parents to bring their children for immunization. We will now train them on the importance of the Rotavirus Vaccine as well so that they can effectively motivate communities.”
Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Odisha, Yumi Bae, said,
“It is important that information about the availability of the Rotavirus vaccine reaches all mothers and care givers in the state. Odisha has one of the highest under–five mortality, of which diarrhoea is a major contributor. The media, through responsible reportingis a valuable partner in getting the messages out on a consistent basis that not only create demand but also dispel fears.”
Hemanta Mishra, SEPIO, GoO, while speaking to the media, highlighted the burden of Rotavirus diarrhoea in the State.
Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda will launch the rotavirus vaccine through the Universal Immunisation Programme, nationally, in Bhubaneswar, on 26 March. Besides Odisha, the vaccine will be provided, in the first phase of roll out, under the national immunization programme, to all children in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh. Later, it will be expanded across the country.
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The rotavirus vaccine will be administered, along with other available vaccines, in three doses at 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks during the regular immunization sessions across 30 districts in Odisha. Each dose comprises 5 drops per child. Around 8,53,000 children between 0-1 year will be targeted through 26,000 immunization sessions State-wide every month.
Globally, children are provided with rotavirus vaccine through national immunization programme, in 80 countries, to reduce child deaths and disabilities from diarrhoea.