NEW DELHI : The government has included Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) in the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) to protect children against severe forms of pneumococcal diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis. With this inclusion, children will be protected against 12 vaccine preventable diseases.
The launch was done by the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, J.P. Nadda at a function in Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. Pneumococcal disease is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in children under five years of age globally and in India. India accounts for nearly 20% of global pneumonia deaths in this age group. In 2010, pneumococcal pneumonia accounted for approximately 16% of all severe pneumonia cases and 30% of pneumonia related deaths in children under- five years of age in India. Introducing PCV, therefore, will substantially reduce disease burden in the country.
Terming this as an historic moment and an exemplary step in IndiaÂs immunization programme, Mr Nadda said the government was committed to reducing morbidity and mortality in children. Strengthening routine immunization is an essential investment in IndiaÂs children and will ensure a healthy future of the country, he noted.
Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine is being rolled out to approximately 21 lakh children in Himachal Pradesh and parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the first phase. This will be followed by introduction in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan next year, and eventually be expanded to the country in a phased manner.Mr Nadda said that under Mission Indradhanush, so far, more than 2.6 crore beneficiaries have been immunized so far. From 1% annual increase in coverage of full immunization, Mission Indradhanush has resulted in a 6.7 % annual expansion in the immunization cover.
The Health Minister further said that all these vaccines were available in the private sector for many years, not only in India but also across the world. ÂWhile these vaccines in the private sector were accessible to only those who could afford them, by making them available under the UIP, the government is ensuring equitable access to those who need them the most, the underprivileged and underserved,Â Mr Nadda added.Pneumonia kills more children under-five years of age in India than any other infectious disease. The pentavalent vaccine which was scaled up in all states under the UIP by 2015 protects against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) pneumonia. Now, the introduction of PCV in the UIP will reduce child deaths from pneumococcal pneumonia. It will also reduce the number of children being hospitalized for pneumonia, and therefore reduce the economic burden on the families and the health cost burden on the country.
The Health Minister informed that the ICT-based Patient Satisfaction System (PSS) ÂMera Aspataal / My HospitalÂ for implementation in public and empanelled private hospitals, is envisaged to empower the patient by seeking his / her views on quality of experience in a public health care facility.
He further said that the Free Drugs Services Initiative, universal screening for non-communicable diseases for all people above 19 years to be rolled out shortly in select 100 districts in the first phase, the Free Diagnostics Services Initiative, the District Hospital Strengthening support, roll out of comprehensive primary health care, and Quality Assurance Programme – all represent initiatives intended to reduce fragmentation of care, improve quality of care and reduce out of pocket expenses.