22 October, 2020

‘Free’ Vaccines Aren’t Free Of The Foreign Hand

The perils of India’s growing dependence on vaccine imports and private manufacturers

Immunity Disorder
Polio vaccination kits wait for use at a rural primary health centre near Allahabad, UP
Photograph by Getty Images
‘Free’ Vaccines Aren’t Free Of The Foreign Hand
outlookindia.com
2017-04-08T11:14:21+05:30

How many vaccines does a newborn need? Does a child need vaccination regardless of how minor the ailment or rare the disease? Even doctors don’t offer a clear answer. More than 85 per cent of the total vaccines sold in India are administered through state-run programmes under the central government’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). Aiming to immunise all newborn children, the programme started off with six essential vaccines and, over the past few years, introduced three more—rotavirus, Pentavalent and pneumococcal vaccines—while the mumps vaccine is in the process of being added. Battling overstretched resources and poor coverage, the programme has also drawn flak for yielding to the influence of international bodies, leading to certain vaccines being introduced that allegedly don’t match the profile of immunisation needs on the ground. For instance, every year, five lakh children die due to vaccine-preventable diseases and another 89 lakh are at risk, because they are either unimmunised or partially immunised.

So is public money...

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