Speed up immunisation to cover 5mn kids: WHO

New Delhi,¬† )¬†Lauding the immunisation efforts being made by countries including India’s Mission Indradhanush, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday called for accelerating efforts to reach the nearly five million unvaccinated children in south-east Asia.

“It is critical to identify who are missing vaccination and reach them with lifesaving vaccines. Equity and improving vaccination coverage is the key to preventing resurgence of diseases,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia, in a statement.

The WHO South-East Asia records about 37 million births every year, of them over 88 per cent children are now getting three doses of diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) vaccines annually, an indicator of basic vaccination coverage.

“Mapping hard-to-reach areas and population, addressing social and cultural and other barriers for them to access immunisation services, and closely monitoring these activities for progress, should be among our immediate priorities,” Singh said.

Mission Indradhanush, which focuses on 190 districts, is making impressive efforts to save more and more lives through immunisation, the WHO said.

Launched in December 2014, Mission Indradhanush aims to immunise all children under the age of 2 years, as well as all pregnant women, against seven vaccine-preventable diseases — diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, measles and Hepatitis B and pneumonia.

Other countries such as Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh also earned the UN health body’s praise for successfully averting outbreaks of deadly diseases such as cholera and measles as well as helping rapidly curtail diphtheria outbreaks.

Growing political commitment, stronger partnerships and the relentless efforts of thousands of health workers and vaccinators are collectively helping save millions of lives in the region, Singh said.

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