Lack of immunization ups fatal diseases like diphtheria

Lack of immunization ups fatal diseases like diphtheria
Kulsum Mustafa

Low percentage of routine immunization in Uttar Pradesh is resulting in the resurgence of diseases like diphtheria and whooping cough in children. While in some districts of UP, immunization is less then 20 percent, in others it is between 20-40 percent. Professor (Dr) Yogesh Govil from Department of Paediatrics, Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University (CSMMU, upgraded King George's Medical College - KGMC) said that in Tamil Nadu the immunization is 92 percent while in Karnataka it is 84 per cent.

Professor Govil gave this information in his presentation titled ‘Routine immunization-bitter facts’. Prof Govil was interacting with the journalists at ‘Media for Children’ programme, a bi- monthly media- sensitization event held at the UP Press Club on Friday, 25 December 2009. The programme was organized by Media Nest, a forum working for the welfare of journalists and their families and is supported by UNICEF.

Vaccinations for diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, tetanus and measles are necessary and a right of every child. Prof Govil said that when we do not give these life-saving vaccinations to our children we subject them to life threatening diseases. The doctor bemoaned the fact that the lack of immunization is resulting in the resurgence of these diseases and the results are fatal in many cases.

“All these vaccinations just cost less then Rs 5, but they provide the child with an armour of health,” said Dr Govil adding that only after a child gets all these vaccinations that we can say that he is 100 per cent immunized.

“We got 107 cases of diphtheria in our hospital but could only save 41. Sixty six children were lost because somebody somewhere did not think it important that the child was given the vital and necessary vaccination for diphtheria,” said Dr Govil.

Urging the media to come forward and help in focusing the attention of the masses on this issue Dr Govil said that it is important that those who draft and execute the state health policies are subjected to greater accountability.

On a suggestion by a scribe whether the government focus and priority being pulse polio has affected the routine immunization he answered in the affirmative. However he agreed to a suggestion coming from another journalist in the audience that routine immunization be linked the pulse polio programme.

Kulsum Mustafa

(The author is a senior journalist and Secretary-General of Media Nest)

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