While gloom enveloped Gopanpally, Ranga Reddy district health authorities tried to fire-fight the situation by launching a health camp and vaccination drive
In a development that could raise uncomfortable questions on the effectiveness of State-run immunisation drive, three children, two from Ranga Reddy district and one from Hyderabad, died of diphtheria, a purely vaccine-preventable disease, on Monday night.
The deceased were identified as Vaishnavi (6) and Prabhu Challa alias Bablu (3) from Rajiv Nagar, Gopanpally village, Serlingampally mandal and Shahid (6) hailing from Chaderghat.
According to health authorities, Prabhu Challa died in Niloufer Hospital and the other two, Shahid and Vaishnavi, breathed their last at Fever Hospital, Nallakunta.
Doctors, who were directly involved in the treatment, said that the children were admitted with severe symptoms of diphtheria, which made it very difficult for them to revive the patients.
While there was a pall gloom in Gopanpally, as family members poured their heart out over the sudden death of the toddlers, the Ranga Reddy district health authorities tried to fire-fight by launching a health camp and vaccination drive.
“What is the point in vaccinating now when we have already lost our children? There are over 30 children who have Diphtheria here in this area,” was the refrain from the relatives.
The administration of Diphtheria vaccine is a long drawn out process that includes booster doses.
“Vaccine should be administered immediately after birth, then after six weeks, 10 weeks, 18 months, five years and then once every 10 years. The boy’s condition was extreme and our best efforts could not save him,” said Superintendent, Niloufer Hospital, Dr. D. Ranganath.
District health officials, familiar with the events that ultimately caused the death, said that the children could have received Diphtheria vaccine only once rather than multiple times.
“Due to their impoverished background, the children have low immunity and this, sometimes, could complicate the ailment if not attended on time,” the officials maintained.
Meanwhile, during screening in the health camp at Gopanpally, the doctors referred five children to the Fever Hospital who had typical symptoms of Diphtheria including sore throat, fever and chills. The children admitted were undergoing treatment and stable, doctors later said.
The Ranga Reddy district health authorities said that a private hospital at Gopanpally had referred Vaishnavi to the Fever Hospital on Saturday, August 24.
“The parents, however, admitted the girl on Monday, August 26 to the Hospital. A simple antibiotic could have saved the life but precious two-days were lost,” lamented District Medical and Health Officer (DMHO), Ranga Reddy, Dr. Subhash Chandra Bose.