Abdul Latheef Naha

More than 50 p.c. children fail to get vaccination

Confirms findings of a health survey by Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science StudiesHealth and civic authorities to launch an intensive immunisation campaignLittle improvement in the immunisation coverage from 1993

MALAPPURAM: Malappuram district continues to be lagging way behind the State average in providing immunisation to children.

A recent study conducted by doctors of the Government Hospital here in collaboration with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and civic authorities found that immunisation coverage in the district was below 45 per cent.

This study has confirmed the findings of a health survey conducted by Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies, a public health wing of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram. The survey, done a couple of years ago, had found the lowest percentage of immunisation in Malappuram district.

The results of the doctors' study have startled the health and civic authorities alike. They have begun to draw up plans to wipe out the district's backwardness in health sector by launching an intensive immunisation campaign.

About five years ago, Malappuram had reported a case of acute poliomyelitis. Health authorities had warned then that eradication of polio from Kerala would be possible only by concentrating on districts like Malappuram, where the routine immunisation coverage was lower than many backward Indian villages.

Coverage of polio and measles vaccines in other parts of the State was about 90 per cent; but in Malappuram it continued to be below 50 per cent. The district has made little improvement in the immunisation coverage from 1993, when it was around 45 per cent.

The study has found several reasons for the poor reach of immunization in district, which has distinct areas of urban, coastal and tribal demarcation. In urban areas, elite group resistance coupled with organised anti-propaganda, religious taboo and false reporting were the reasons for low vaccination. In coastal areas, poor literacy, lack of awareness, high population density, religious influence and the non-availability of male members had contributed to low immunisation.