Child immunization programme in 184 districts

New Delhi, April 29 (IANS) In an effort to check child deaths due to preventable diseases like measles and diphtheria, the central government has launched a special immunization week to reach out to 184 high-risk districts, an official said Monday.

“We have identified 184 high priority districts, where our prime focus would be to lay sufficient importance on generating awareness about immunization,” said Anuradha Gupta, additional secretary, ministry of health.

“These high risk areas have been identified through India’s Polio Eradication Programme. The awareness campaign will reach the marginalised populations in brick kilns, urban slums and hard-to-reach areas,” Gupta said at an event here.

The special immunization week will be held over four weeks in as many months. The programme are planned for one week each in the months of April, June, July and August in the high-risk areas across the country. The programme for the month of April has already taken place.

“We have introduced new routine immunization logo, posters, and radio and TV advertisements which will help the public understand the importance of these life- saving vaccines,” Gupta added.

Unveiling the new logo, radio advertisements and posters, Gupta stressed that communication and campaign were necessary.

“The new logo and other communication material would promote consistent messaging to raise awareness on the urgency of reaching every child with life-saving immunization,” Gupta said.

The official said a 2009 survey showed that 26 percent population in the country were not aware about vaccines.

Louis-Georges Arsenault, Unicef-India representative, said: “There are geographical, rural-urban, poor-rich, gender and other related differences in vaccination coverage.”

According to Unicef, nearly 1.6 million children under the age of five years die in India every year. A large number of these deaths can be prevented with vaccines.

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