Immunisation coverage among UP children cause of concern

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Lucknow, Nov 14 (UNI) At a time when the whole country is celebrating Children's Day, Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of the country, has every reason to feel sore about the health of children in the state with indices suggesting a gloomy picture.

UP has the dubious distinction of having the lowest immunisation coverage rates among all the states in India except Nagaland-a point to ponder on yet another children's day.

It is hard to beleive but the fact remains that only 23 per cent of children in UP in the age group of 12-23 months, are fully vaccinated against the six major childhood illnesses, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) reveals.

Despite all claimed efforts of the state government, there has been a very little improvement in full vaccination coverage in Utttar Pradesh between NFHS-2 (20 per cent) and NFHS-3 (23 per cent), the survey report said.

By the time they are one-year-old, children are supposed to receive a BCG vaccination against tuberculosis, a measles vaccination and three doses each of polio and DPT vaccines.

One more incredulous distinction is in the name of Uttar Pradesh which continues to have the highest infant mortality rate in the country. One in 14 children die in the first year of life while one in ten die before reaching five years of age, according to the survey findings.

Even on other parameters of child health, Uttar Pradesh presents a sorry picture with 74 per cent of children in the age group of 6-59 months being anaemic though the anaemia is linked to poor nutrition/malnutrition.Amaemia among children is more widespread than it was seven years ago at the time of NFHS-2, having risen 11 percentage points since then.

In fact, Malnutrition continues to be a major health problem for children as well as adults in Uttar Pradesh, the reports says. ' More than half of children (57 per cent) under age of five are stunted, or too short for their age. Forty-two per cent of children under age of five are underweight, which takes into account both chronic and acute undernutrition,'' the report points out.

Diarrhoea remains to be a major health problem for many children and only 26 per cent children were treated with any kind of Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) ,including increased fluids or Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), the survey report said.

To this, the UP health secretary and Mission director of National Rural Health Mission (NHRM) Rajiv Kapoor told UNI that the state government was aware of the statistics in this regard. ''We have prepared an action plan to increase the imunisation coverage in the state,'' he said.

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