The ongoing statewide measles immunisation drive appears set to pip earlier records as the first and second phases which were carried out in 10 districts have together covered more than 30 lakh (83%) of all children estimated living in the areas,said a government release. The third phase is currently being taken out in eight corporations and 16 districts.
Nevertheless,figures for some of the 10 districts already covered are falling short of the requisite 80% coverage for every district,a target set by the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) in order to meet the UNs Millennium Development Goals.
For example,Surendranagar covered just 68% of all estimated children in the district,while Patan covered 73% and Junagadh covered 78.5%.
However,Gujarats record for measles vaccination has been steadily improving over the past two decades.
In 1992-93,just 56% of infants were covered. The figure rose to 64% in 1998-99 and rose further to above 65% in the middle of the last decade. Coverage finally hit 75% in 2007-08,according to the last government survey.
A 2009 fact-sheet by UNICEF found measles immunisation coverage stood at 78% of children in the state,the highest percentage reached,until now. However,the survey also found that 13 other Indian states had done better than Gujarat,as did the Union territories when combined.
This time,authorities are also taking extra precautions such as supplying medical teams carrying out the immunisation drive with emergency kits. Four infants in Kutch district had died after being immunised last year,while earlier this week in Surat,16 infants had to be admitted to hospital.