Leading child health expert and one of the pioneers of oral rehydration therapy for diarrhoea management, Dr Mathuram Santosham, has lauded India’s recent decision to introduce a vaccine for rotavirus in its universal immunisation programme.
Rotavirus is the leading cause of diarrhoea that kills an estimated one lakh Indian children every year.
Dr Santosham said India would do well to use the indigenously developed rotavirus vaccine as its efficacy is comparable to that of other international brands available in the market.
The Indian-origin professor at Johns Hopkins University is currently in India at the invitation of Union Health Minister Dr Harshvardhan as the country observes Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight (IDCF) to meet the millennium development goal of bringing down infant mortality.
According to Dr Santosham there is an added urgency on the part of the NDA government to meet the millennium development goals and to reduce child mortality in particular that was not there during the UPA regime. “There is a renewed urgency in the health ministry. The minister is taking opinions of the best brains in the country and the best experts in the world to reduce child mortality. That was not there earlier, or at least it was not apparent to me,” Dr Santosham told The Indian Express.
He, however, added that the low coverage of breastfeeding remains a concern in the country. “Our immunisation coverage at 67 per cent is higher than the coverage of either breastfeeding or ORS,” he said.