“The Health Ministry has drawn an ambitious plan under the 100-days agenda of the newly elected government, wherein it has been decided to provide Rota virus vaccine to every child across all 36 states and UTs by September, 2019.” said Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare. The Union Health Minister further added that under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, the Government is committed to ending morbidity and mortality in children due to diarrhea by 2022. He stressed on the importance of strengthening routine immunization as in order to ensure a healthy future of the country.
Dr Harsh Vardhan explained that Diarrhea is one of the biggest killers in children and Rota virus is one of the most common causes of severe diarrhea in children less than 2 years of age. “Rota virus vaccine along with proper sanitation, hand washing practices, ORS and zinc supplementation will go a long way in reducing the mortality and morbidity due to diarrhea in children,” he mentioned. The Union Health Minister further added that the Government is also committed to increasing the full immunization coverage and ensuring that the benefit of the life-saving vaccines is provided to every child.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said that it is the ‘Goal and Commitment of our government’ to ensure that no child in the country dies from Vaccine Preventable Diseases “We stand committed to reducing child deaths and provide a healthier future to our children and the expansion of Rotavirus vaccine under UIP is a step in that direction”.
In India, every year 37 out of every 1000 children born are unable to celebrate their 5th birthday, and one of the major reasons for this is diarrheal deaths. Out of all the causes of diarrhea, rota virus is a leading cause of diarrhea in children less than 5 years of age. It is estimated that rota-virus cause 8,72,000 hospitalizations; 32,70,000 outpatient visits and estimated 78,000 deaths annually in India. Rota-virus diarrhea presents in similar manner like any other diarrhea but can mainly be prevented through rota-virus vaccination. Other diarrhea can be prevented through general measures like good hygiene, frequent hand washing, safe water and safe food consumption, exclusive breastfeeding and vitamin A supplementation.
Keeping in view the burden of this disease which can be prevented through vaccination, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), an expert committee, recommended introduction of rota virus vaccine (RVV) in the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP).Three doses of rota virus vaccine are provided along with other vaccines, free of cost under UIP at one and half months, two and half months, and three and half month of age of child.
Rota virus vaccine was introduced in 2016 in a phased manner, beginning with 4 states initially and later expanded to 7 more states making it a total of 11 states by end of 2018, where Rota virus vaccine was available in the country. At present the vaccine has been further expanded to 17 more states till now. Rota virus vaccine is now available in 28 States/UTs, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, Tripura, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Daman & Diu, Gujarat, Bihar, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Goa, Chandigarh, Nagaland, Delhi, Mizoram, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The vaccine is expected to be available in all 36 States/UTs by September 2019.