Immunisation is probably the single most cost effective way of improving survival in children in developing countries like India. Despite solid evidence to this effect, about two to three million people die from vaccine-preventable diseases annually.
India provides free immunization services through its public health care system under the Universal Immunization Programme, but only 44% of children aged 1-2 years receive the basic package of immunisations (BCG, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Poliomyelitis, Measles and Hepatitis-B) recommended by WHO and UNICEF, based on research data provided by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3). A recent study published in the Lancet shows very similar results. Worse still, this is a skewed figure which does not reflect figures across all cross-sections of the society. The figure dips to an abysmal 22% in some rural areas of the country where penetration of immunisation programmes is poor.
Despite these dismal figures, India officially became a polio-free nation on 25th February, 2012 after being struck off the list of polio-endemic countries by WHO. India had previously gained the notoriety of harbouring almost half of the world’s polio cases until very recently in 2009. Kudos to nation-wide efforts under the guise of Pulse Polio Immunization programme, an era of this crippling disease is finally over. Polio had previously crippled an estimated 2,00,000 children annually in India before the launch of Global Polio Eradication Initiative .
Now, only three countries in the world, namely Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, remain afflicted by endemic poliomyelitis.
Let this brilliant success serve as a beacon of light and as a hope for other vaccine-preventable diseases. Let us hope for effective immunization penetration across all cross-sections of our society for a more healthy and immune India for our children.
My idea of an Armageddon is a world filled with totally antibiotic resistant germs, superbugs that cause one pandemic after another – where no antibiotics work, and no cure in sight! The battle rages on, and to win, we will need the right weapons. What weapons will you choose? Whom will you trust your life with?
I choose immunization! I can picture my little boys cringe and nod in disagreement. Come on kiddos, shots are good!
Immunisation is the only weapon that will redeem us in the long haul, particularly with the advent of superbugs that are resistant to almost all known antibiotics. Well, let’s not forget age old wisdom and give Ayurveda a chance to prove that we have more to hope than just immunisation, to save the day. And hey, did you know that the tradition of inoculation, a crude form of vaccination, is ensconced in Ayurvedic texts and may have originated in India in 1000 BCE.
Now, who are you with against these formidable enemies? I bet you are thinking vaccines.
My kids would love to hear this part, but it might be a little too late for them.
Mark my words; your next vaccine might be delicious! Hmm, edible vaccines? Exactly, who likes painful shots? Oral Polio Vaccine and Oral Typhoid Vaccine are just starters to the whole menu of edible vaccines still cooking in the kitchen. You might just as well have vaccines for dinner or a yummy vaccine snack during lunch hour. “Waiter, vaccines on a platter please!”
Oral Polio Vaccine to the Rescue
Let us hope that the painful saga of injectable vaccines ends soon enough, and then, you can have live bacteria for breakfast, attenuated viruses for lunch and microbial cocktail for dinner. Just kidding!
Disease Prevention is a buzzword that has been making the rounds among common people, as much as among the scientific community, especially after outbreaks of multi-drug resistant bugs that are resilient to the latest antibiotics. Some forward thinkers are even predicting a pre-antibiotic era, wherein antibiotics are sitting ducks against deadly superbugs. Are we prepared for this? The question is whether our body’s immunity is up to the task.
Let’s work together so that we make our country’s immunization programme a success and save many more lives in the process. 100% immunization coverage is possible if we give our 100%! The least we can do is to free our country of vaccine-preventable diseases, and then truly, we can have an Immune India.
Let’s replicate the success of Pulse Polio Immunisation
Let’s do our part – spread awareness about immunization, volunteer for immunization camps and projects, share our knowledge and resources about universal immunization and thus protect our children’s future, the future of India.
As fellow bloggers and Medical Island fans, do your part by sharing this article to as many of your friends as possible. Then, thank yourself for saving a child!