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Immunisation surveillance on the cards

THE department of health will launch a sentinel surveillance model for vaccination against preventable childhood infectious diseases from January 2011.

An expert group constituted by the Union health ministry, which studied the Union government’s initiative, felt that the surveillance would assess and evaluate the magnitude of diseases across the country. It will also provide assistance in collecting data on diphtheria, measles, meningitis, Japanese encephalitis and diarrhoea. The total budget required to set up sentinel surveillance units across the country is stated to be Rs 1,056.6 crore.

More than 11,000 children are being immunised for nine diseases in Karnataka every year, and yet large numbers of children continue to fall prey to infectious diseases.

The sentinel surveillance units will be set up at 30 medical colleges or tertiary care hospitals that have respective 30 district hospitals linked to them. These units will collect information on meningitis, measles and enteric fever. Bangalore Medical College has been proposed as one of the 30 sentinel sites in Karnataka.

For diphtheria, case data will be gathered at selected infectious disease hospitals. As for diarrhoea, pneumonia, influenza and whooping cough, few designated centres will do research based surveillance and details of Japanese encephalitis will be collected at the existing sentinel sites under National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme. The sentinel units will focus on time and season of the disease outbreak, age and gender of cases, geographic distribution, vaccination status for suspected diseases and laboratory data. Doctors at outpatient units will be asked to maintain records of suspected cases and paediatricians will be sensitised.

UNICEF report

The recent UNICEF’s Coverage Evaluation Survey (CES) 2009 report indicates 22 per cent drop-out rate in immunising children between 12-23 months of age in Karnataka. Interestingly, the health department’s records show about 97 per cent achievement since 2005. 

The national survey conducted by UNICEF between November 2009 and January 2010, highlighted 39 per cent drop out in India. The most common reason given by the parents was that they ‘did not feel the need to get the child immunised’. 

The Health department will introduce second dose of measles in the routine immunisation programme from January 1. “We will give it along with DPT booster vaccine, which is given at 18 months,” Dr M R Mohanraju, Project Director, Health Department told Deccan Herald. The Department has received about three lakh second dose measles vaccine.

The Central government decided on giving free second dose of measles vaccine to all children under the universal immunisation drive so as to eradicate the virus by 2015 in India. A 10 per cent failure rate was noticed when only one dose was given, said Dr N Karthik Nagesh, president of Indian Academy of Paediatrics, Bangalore.

(Published in Deccan Herald on 31st December, 2010)

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