IAP Snubbed for Pushing Vaccines

IAP pushes for pneumonia vaccine

The disease is responsible for over four lakh children dying each year
Lata Mishra
Govt officials don’t seem too keen on the new vaccine

On Saturday, a training programme for over 300 paediatric doctors and vaccine experts has been organised by the Indian Academyof Paediatrics (IAP) to raise concern over the high child mortality rate in India under the age of 5. 

The IAP said that pneumonia is a leading cause of death and that the government of India should also include free vaccines for pneumonia and rotavirus in their current immunisation schedule. 

It is interesting that IAP’s entire two-day training programme was sponsored by three foreign-based pharmaceutical companies who make pneumonia vaccines. The programme has been organised at the Hyatt Regency in Mumbai. 

However, the Central government officials which included Anuradha Gupta (IAS), additional secretary and mission director, National Rural Health Mission (NHRM) and additional secretary, health, who were present for the programme did not seem to be in the mood to include the new vaccine in their schedule and instead, were more interested in focusing more on the current immunisation programme. 

As per data provided by NRHM, only 60 per cent children under the age of 5 are able to take advantage of the seven vaccines which are available for free in government hospitals. The rest either missed the vaccine due to vaccine experts either unable to reach them, or their parents weren’t aware of it. 

Gupta said, “Instead of adding another vaccine, doctors should spare a bit of their time to counsel patients on hygiene and nutrition. 70 per cent of infant mortality is because of neonatal mortality. 34 per cent children are dying due to malnutrition, 18 per cent due to preterm. Vaccination may not be the most effective solution though it could be one of the solutions.” 

Gupta further added that the reduction of child mortality has been variable across all states over the years. Dr Shailesh Gupta, Secretary General, IAP, said, “India accounts for 69 of the 1,000 live births and nearly 4,10,000 children die annually from pneumonia. 

It’s time to think about the pneumonia vaccine, other countries like the USA have already included vaccines on their schedule. The vaccine is already available on the market, but it is priced at around Rs 2,000 and since three doses are prescribed, the poor cannot afford it.”