Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda launched indigenous rotavirus vaccine on Saturday in Odisha. The rotavirus vaccine will now be available free of cost at all public health facilities under the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). In a historic moment in the country's public health programme, the vaccine was launched in the presence of several union and state ministers at an event in Bhubaneswar.
Nadda said the introduction of the vaccine will enable the government to directly address the problem of diarrheal deaths. "This is not a routine programme. It is a historical occasion. It is a programme which sets a goal in the field of public health and India goes forward as far as public health programme is concerned. By launching this rotavirus (vaccine), taking a pledge that giving this rotavirus (vaccine) in coming time should immunise 27 million children," said Nadda.
He said the government is committed to reducing morbidity and mortality rate and this vaccine will help in reducing it. "It's a very cost-effective intervention which has taken place. It's very effective, it's cost-effective and it's also going to bring a change in the health scenario of the children and see to it that we are able to address the issue of IMR (Infant Mortality Rate),"added Nadda.
The health minister also launched advertisements for the vaccine at the ceremony. The vaccine will be rolled out in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh in the first phase. The rotavirus vaccine has been developed indigenously, under a public-private partnership by the Ministry of Science and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Rota is a highly contagious virus that infects majority of children before their first birthday. It is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea among children, leading to hospitalisation and death. Rotavirus is one of the leading causes of diarrhoea-related infections and deaths among children under the age of five years. According to Nadda, about 80,000 - 1,00,000 children die in India due to rotavirus diarrhoea every year.