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Andhra Pradesh is all set to introduce rotavirus vaccine to combat diarrhoeal deaths among children, an official said on Thursday. The state has received 460,000 doses of rotavac, the country's first indigenous rotavirus vaccine. Addressing a media orientation workshop organized by the state government and UNICEF ahead of the launch, Vanisri Saride, joint director, child health and immunisation, said the vaccine will soon become a part of the state government's Universal Immunisation Programme and health staff in districts had been imparted training for implementation of the programme. (Read: 10 vaccines recommended for your child)
The participants were briefed about the importance of new vaccines in reducing under-five child mortality and improving child survival. Andhra Pradesh will thus become the second state after Odisha to introduce vaccine. Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are the other two states which will be covered under the first phase. Later, it will be expanded across the country. The vaccine will be made available at all government hospitals, sub-centres and immunisation session sites.
Officials of the state government, UNICEF, World Health Organisation and Indian Institute of Public Health explained the importance of the vaccine. Andhra Pradesh has shown 17 per cent decline in the under-5 mortality between 2009 and 2012. Yet each year ,diarrhoea affects 8 percent children under five years, which is a high number. Rotavirus alone is responsible for 40 percent of the severe diarrhea cases, and kills one child every 4 minutes in India. We are confident that the introduction of this vaccine will bring down the Infant Mortality Rate in the state, said UNICEF health specialist Sanjeev Upadhaya. (Read: Experts believe that Rota vaccines may save infants from occult practices in Odisha villages)
The vaccine would be administered, along with other available vaccines, in three doses at 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks during the regular immunisation sessions across 13 districts in Andhra Pradesh. Each dose comprises 5 drops per child. Globally, children are provided with rotavirus vaccine through national immunisation programme, in 80 countries, to reduce child deaths and disabilities from diarrhoea. Akash Malik of John Snow Incorporation said India became the first country in Asia to come out with the vaccine. He said while the vaccine was available in private hospitals for nearly a decade, it did not reach majority of the children as each dose used to cost Rs.1,000. (Read: 9 home remedies for diarrhoea in children)
K. N. Arun Kumar of WHO India, said rotavirus diarrohea was killing 1.22 lakh to 1.53 lakh children in India every year and was the third leading cause of deaths among children under the age of five. Vivek Singh of Indian Institute of Public Health, Hyderabad, called for reaching the unreached to protect the children belonging to socially and geographically distanced sections of the society.
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