MANGALDAI, Feb 10 � Every year about 1.4 million children below the age of five die in India due to vaccine preventable diseases like pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles and new-born complications like sepsis. In Assam, according to the Annual Health Survey (AHS), the under 5 mortality rate is 71 per 1000 live births. A highly cost-effective way of preventing these fatal diseases is immunisation. It is one of the world�s most successful public health initiatives. India through its one of the largest immunisation programme called the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) has already been targeting nearly 27 million new born babies every year. The Government of India has included a new type of vaccine called Pentavalent (five-in-one) within this UIP. The vaccine provides protection to a child from 5 life-threatening diseases like diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenza type b (Hib). DPT (Diphtheria + Pertussis + Tetanus ) and Hep B are already part of the ongoing routine immunisation in the country but Hib vaccine is a new addition and they all make up the pentavalent vaccine. Hib bacteria can cause deadly diseases including pneumonia and meningitis and is known to kill more than 3.7 lakh children every year. Pentavalent vaccine can prevent over a third of pneumonia cases and 90 per cent of Hib meningitis cases . Furthermore , the vaccine reduces the number of pricks to a child and eases complexity in terms of number of visits for vaccination.
After the introduction of this vaccine in eight States of the country, it has alrady been launched in some parts of Assam along with 11 other States recently. Much to the delight of poor parents in Darrang, the district is going to introduce this programme on February 18 next . The district Health department prepared itself for successful implementation of this programme despite various challenges. This was stated by the officials of the District Family Welfare Bureau (DFWB), Darrang while participating in a district-level media workshop to strengthen and support this proposed vaccination programme at Youth club auditorium here recently.
Participating in the workshop as resource persons, Dr AK Dhing, District Immunisation Officer (DIO) and Gahin Kalita, District Extension and Media Officer (retd), DFWB, Darrang discussed the pivotal role of the media in creating an informed discourse on the beneficial health aspects of the new vaccine. They observed that there is a significant gap in reporting on health issues and especially on Routine Immunization (RI) both in the district and peripheral level. Lack of accurate information to journalists very often results in inadvertent misreporting, leading to a lot of misconceptions around the vaccine. Hence there is a need to capacitate the media community and provide updated and accurate information. The benefits of the programme will not reach the target population unless an enabling environment is created and demand for the same is generated among the target stake holders.
In Darrang district, a total of 10,398 children between the age group of 6 weeks to one year are going to be covered in the first three months for which 5 block medical officers, 22 sectoral medical officers, 16 supervisors, 398 ANM, 994 ASHA and 998 Angawadi workers will be engaged. The workshop attended by most of the local journalists was also attended by Dr Manjula Kalita, Additional Chief Medical & Health Officer, Darrang and Samar Kalita, District Information & Public Relations Officer, Darrang.