Nagesh Prabhu

India has the lowest child immunisation rate in South Asia

Nearly 25 per cent of children don’t receive three doses of polio vaccine

BANGALORE: As another Children’s Day arrives, here is a piece of news that gives little cause for celebration.

The public health system has failed our children in a crucial aspect of well being. Only 55 per cent children in the age group of 12 to 23 months in Karnataka are fully vaccinated againstmajor childhood illnesses – tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, and measles.

This was revealed recently in National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-3 for 2005-06 for Karnataka.

More worryingly, this represents a decline in coverage from 1998-99 when 60 per cent children were immunised.

In fact, India has dubious distinction of having the lowest child immunisation rate in South Asia.

The proportion of children who have not had a BCG vaccine in India is twice as high as in Nepal, more than five times Bangladesh and more than 30 times in Sri Lanka, according to a document brought out by the Planning Commission.

Eighty-eight per cent of children in Karnataka received the BCG vaccination. However, only three out of four (74 per cent) children received at least the recommended three doses each of the DPT and polio vaccines and 72 per cent receive the measles vaccine.

Nearly 25 per cent of children have not received three doses of polio vaccine, despite the Pulse Polio Campaign to eradicate the disease in the country, the survey said.

Malnutrition continues

Malnutrition continued to be a problem with nearly 44 per cent of children under the age five are stunted due to inadequate food intake and illness.

A high number (70 per cent) of children in the age group of 6 to 59 months were suffering from anaemia in the State, the survey said..