As per the government statistics, the rubella infection approximately affects 25,000 children every year in India.
New Delhi: With an aim to reduce deaths under five years of age, government is all set to introduce two major vaccines — the measles-rubella (MR) and pneumococcal — in the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP).
While the MR vaccine will be launched by the Union health minister J.P. Nadda on February 7 in five states and UTs, the Pneumococcal vaccine will become part of the UIP in March in three states. Once the MR vaccine is introduced, the existing monovalent measles vaccine will be discontinued. The MR vaccine is expected to be introduced in Tamil Nadu, Goa, Karnataka, Lakshadweep and Puducherry while the Pneumococcal vaccine will be launched in Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
According to the officials in the health ministry, the move aims to reduce deaths among children under five years of age. As per the government statistics, the rubella infection approximately affects 25,000 children every year in India. Likewise, pneumonia is emerging as one of the leading causes of mortality among children aged under five. The government had earlier asked the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation to conduct a feasibility study on the vaccine so that it could be introduced in the country.
According to a 2014 report by UNICEF, pneumonia and diarrhea claimed lives of more than 3,00,000 children in 2013. The 2014 Pneumonia and Diarrhea progress report released by the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) suggested raising coverage of pneumonia treatment in the country. India has, for the last few years, intensified strategies to combat diseases affecting children through various interventions like introducing pentavalent vaccine for hib. Pneumonia and meningitis, rotavirus vaccine for diarrhea and scaling up measles vaccination.
Health experts stress on the need for including pneumonia vaccine in the immunisation programme as nearly 25 per cent of the 1.4 million children below the age of five that die every year globally due to pneumonia are from India. Pneumonia is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of lungs.