Aiming to end morbidity and mortality in children due to diarrhoea by 2022, the Union Health Ministry has chalked out an ambitious plan to administer the Rotavirus vaccine to every child across the 36 States and Union Territories in the country by September end under 100-day agenda of the Government.
Talking about the expansion plan of the Rotavirus vaccine programme for the entire country, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, the government was committed to putting an end to morbidity and mortality in children due to diarrhoea by 2022.
Strengthening routine immunisation was an essential investment in children and it would ensure a healthy future for the country, he stressed.
Diarrhoea is one of the biggest killers of children with Rotavirus being one of the common causes of severe diarrhoea in children less than two years of age, the Minister said.
“The Rotavirus vaccine, along with proper sanitation, hand-washing practices, ORS and zinc supplementation, will go a long way in reducing mortality and morbidity due to diarrhoea in children,” he added.
Vardhan said the Government was also committed to increasing the full immunisation coverage and ensuring that the benefit of the life-saving vaccines was provided to every child in the country.
“We stand committed to reducing child deaths and providing a healthier future to our children and the expansion of the Rotavirus vaccine programme under UIP (Universal Immunisation Programme) is a step in that direction,” he added.
In India, 37 out of 1,000 children are unable to celebrate their fifth birthday and one of the major reasons for this is diarrheal deaths. Rotavirus is a leading cause of diarrhoea in children less than five years of age.
It is estimated that Rotavirus causes 8,72,000 hospitalisations, 32,70,000 outpatient visits and estimated 78,000 deaths annually in India. The vaccine is expected to be available in all the 36 States and Union territories by September.
Rotavirus vaccine was introduced in 2016 in a phased manner, beginning with 4 states initially and later expanded to 7 more states making it a total of 11 states by end of 2018.
At present the vaccine has been further expanded to 17 more States till now. Rotavirus vaccine is now available in 28 States/UTs, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, Tripura, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Daman & Diu, Gujarat, Bihar, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Goa, Chandigarh, Nagaland, Delhi, Mizoram, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.