According to an official statement, the vaccine against rotavirus, which is to be included in the programme, has been developed under a public-private partnership by the Ministry of Science and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The vaccine will be introduced in a phased manner, it said.
“The introduction of four new lifesaving vaccines will play a key role in reducing the childhood and infant mortality and morbidity in the country,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quoted as saying in the statement.
While these vaccines are available in India through private chain, the latest move of the government is expected ensure their accessibility and affordability in all sections of the society.
Inclusion of these vaccines in the universal immunization programme is also likely to expedite India’s progress on meeting the targets set under the millennium development goal to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by the year 2015 and meet global polio eradication targets, the statement said.
With these new vaccines, the government will now provide free vaccines against 13 life threatening diseases under the programe.
According to government estimates, diarrhea caused by rotavirus kills nearly 80,000 children each year. It also imposes an economic burden of over Rs 300 crore per year on the country. Rubella, which causes severe congenital defects in newborns, like blindness, deafness and heart defects, also targets around two lakh babies every year, which are born with congenital defects.