Diphtheria returns to Kerala, two die

Health Minister V S Sivakumar said the tempo of vaccination had decreased in Malappuram and Kasargode districts due to the anti-immunisation stand of certain sections.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Published: September 21, 2015 4:10 am

After a break of one year, diphtheria cases have been reported in Kerala’s Malappuram district again. Two diphtheria deaths were reported in the past week, taking the total confirmed cases this year to five. In 2013, the district reported 11 cases, with one death, but last year there were no reports of any diphtheria cases.

Government officials said the present outbreak in Malappuram could be attributed to the Muslim community’s reluctance to vaccination. Malappuram has the second largest Muslim population among Indian districts.

Malappuram district medical officer Dr Ummer Farook said this year’s cases were reported from two residential Muslim institutions. The victims were in the age group of 10-12 years, and were not vaccinated.

Dr Farook said that though Muslim community leaders did not speak against vaccination, there could be a section of people who were averse to it. Apart from orthodox elements, some naturopathy and homeopathy doctors were also behind the anti-vaccination propaganda, said the DMO. “A section of society considers vaccination an American agenda. They fall into the trap of anti-vaccination campaigners. However, due to consistent effort in recent years, the district has achieved 90 per cent vaccination in the category of under-five children.”

Health Minister V S Sivakumar said the tempo of vaccination had decreased in Malappuram and Kasargode districts due to the anti-immunisation stand of certain sections. “The department will conduct a major immunisation drive in these districts. The situation is under control and the present outbreak cannot be attributed to any lapse on the part of the government,” he said.

Early this year, the health department conducted a survey in Malappuram which showed that among 3,55,279 children below the age of five, 4,729 had not taken any kind of vaccination.

The government has started a new survey in the district to pinpoint children who have not been vaccinated. Camps will be held for them from October 1 to 10.

Farook said, “It was assessed that 25 per cent children below the age of 15 have not taken any vaccination. We will give DPT vaccine for children below the age of 7. Students of fifth and tenth class will be given TD vaccine for tetanus and diphtheria.”

According to public health expert Dr K P Aravindan, health workers should talk to sections opposed to immunisation. “A section in the Muslim community fears that vaccination is an American agenda to control population. Such elements should introspect, considering the child’s right to immunisation.”

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  1. A
    Abdul nasar
    Sep 25, 2015 at 10:58 pm
    So sad. My cousin sister died of it today. lack of vaccination at childhood. we lost her. All please take care of your children
    1. D
      Sep 21, 2015 at 4:54 pm
      If 2 out of 5 cases are reported from kerala...which is the best performing state in health indicators...what about at where state immunisation coverage is much below 75%..........
      1. V
        Vishnu S
        Oct 23, 2015 at 10:39 pm
        Now the vaccination programmes were started Bt the main problem is lack of awareness among the people and that has to be clarified as early as possible... My hearty condolensces to the ones who died of it... As a medical student ..we can make them aware of what the disease is ,,,,,? what is the treatment modalities and its preventions.... Its so late but we can still make the people aware of the disease. I m making a suggestion With thr help of your media ... Can we take a joint venture for aware ness for the people against diphtheria....? If u r interested call in this no...9567516556 pls... Note if u r interested......!!!!!