Sunday, 16 December 2007

Children to get HIB and second dose of measles vaccine


December 2007
By Syed Akbar
Seoul, Dec 14: Indian children will get a second dosage of measles vaccine even as the Central government has decided to take up vaccination againstpneumococcal diseases in certain pockets of the country to reduce the under five childhood deaths by at least 30 per cent in the next eight years.
With the World Health Organisation fixing 2015 as the target year to bring down child mortality rate for countries by one-third, the Indian government had decided to introduce second dosage of vaccination against the deadly measles. Presently, children get just one dosage of measles vaccine under the national immunization programme. The booster dose is to ensure complete control of the disease.
Similarly, immunisation against the other major child health menace caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae will be taken up as part of the national rural health mission in select places to study the efficacy or otherwise of the HIB (haemophilus influenza type B) and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. The World Health Organisation has already sounded alert on burden of pneumococcal diseases on Indian children.
Indian Council of Medical Research director-general Dr NK Ganguly told this correspondent that the second dosage of measles vaccine would effectively prevent measles in children particularly in backward regions and States. “We will include HIB vaccine from the new year under national immunization programme. As far as pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is concerned, we will first take up a study in five or six pockets before deciding on the future course of action,” Dr Ganguly said on the sidelines of the first symposium on pneumococcal vaccination in the Asia Pacific
Region being held in this South Korean Capital city.
Senior paediatricians Dr Nitin Shah and Dr Shyam Kukreja quoting WHO statistics said pneumonia was responsible for 19 per cent of under five deaths and around five lakh children under the age of five die every year because of the disease.
“In India, 30 per cent of all bacterial meningitis cases are caused by pneumococcal disease and 30 per cent of all pneumonia cases are also caused by the same bacteria,” they said.
Experts and policy makers from 20 countries attending the pneumococcal meet, organized by the International Vaccine Institute, formed themselves into Asian Strategic Alliance for Pneumococcal Disease Prevention to spread awareness in the region on the need to control vaccine-preventable
diseases, particularly those caused by pneumonia. India, China and Pakistan together contribute almost 45 per cent of all under five childhood deaths in the world.
“ICMR is collaborating research on indigenous production of vaccines to bring down the total cost. Three Indian pharmaceutical companies are conducting the research. Presently the cost of vaccination is prohibitive,” Dr Ganguly said, adding that the HIB vaccination would be taken up with funding from the Global Alliance for Vaccine Immunisation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr Ganguly said the ICMR had also started an aerosol measles vaccine trial with the financial support from GAVI, which is funding 71 other poor countries.
A large animal facility on a corporate model will come up in Hyderabad to promote drug development and pharmacological research.

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