The Union government’s Mission Indradhanush programme, which immunises children against seven preventable diseases, is expected to expand the vaccinations to include rabies, cervical cancer and rotavirus diarrhea under its National Immunisation Programme (NIP). The government in selected states has recently added the injectable polio vaccine and Japanese encephalitis.
Around 56 districts in India are endemic regions for Japanese encephalitis. Since the government is now proactively launching various vaccines, we do see the dreaded diseases like rabies, cervical cancer and rotavirus to come under this umbrella, said Dr. Shafi Kolhapure, GM, medical affairs, Biologicals India, GSK Pharmaceuticals.
“These are effective vaccines which are underutilised and the government will need to include this on a time-bound basis. Efforts to create an awareness among the medical fraternity and rope in the Indian Association of Pediatrics and the Federation of Obstetric & Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI) are on to prevent and eliminate life threatening diseases,” he added.
Dr. Kolhapure, who was in Bengaluru for the ‘Value of Vaccination’ drive embarked by GSK to take on the onus to control dreaded diseases, said that it is far better to be vaccinated going by the economies-of-scale in healthcare expenditure encountered when diseases strike. The irony is that 2 out of 3 vaccines used in the world are made in India, yet the country is reporting an abysmal low rate of immunisation. Out of the 100 babies born, only 12-15 per cent are vaccinated before they leave the maternal care centres. Around 30-35 per cent are by specialists, 25-30 per cent by general practitioners and the remaining 30 per cent do not receive vaccinations, he said.
There is a huge demand and supply gap for vaccines in India and therefore government should look at including these vaccines under NIP. Moreover with the intramuscular mode of vaccine administration which is accepted by the government, we see the use of 0.1 ml dose as against 0.5 ml dose where more patients can be safely vaccinated, Dr. Kolhapure said.
Rabies is a 100 per cent fatal disease with no second chance for survival and can be prevented with vaccinations. India reports the highest rabies deaths of 50,000 annually. Uttar Pradesh accounts for the highest rabies incidence and Karnataka too accounts for substantial number of cases, pointed out Dr. Kolhapure.
Airing views on the indispensability of cervical cancer vaccine, Dr. Parimala Devi, president, Bangalore Society of Obstetrics & Gynecology, said that in India around 70,000 succumb to this disease. Up to 70 per cent women acquire HPV infection in their lifetime which can be prevented.
“Therefore we are now talking to not just government hospitals like Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology but also those in the corporate sector like Apollo and Fortis to insist on immunisation,” said Dr. Kolhapure.
According to Dr Adarsh Somashekar, member, Indian Association of Pediatrics, 40 per cent of fatalities of children under 5 years are reported due to rotavirus diarrhea. “Around 8.8 lakh children are hospitalised for only for this condition and 32 lakh patients access out-patient departments. This calls for the need to bring this vaccine under NIP. India reports 2.3 crore births annually and 7.5 crore vaccines volumes are needed. If the government widens the vaccination scope then costs can be brought down.”
Nandita Vijay : Pharmabiz.com