This November, four blocks of Pune district — Shirur, Khed, Ambegaon and Junnar — will be involved in the country’s ambitious pilot project to bring down diarrhoeal diseases.
Apart from Pune, the Centre has also selected two other districts, Vellore in Tamil Nadu and Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, to roll out the new rotavac vaccine developed as part of a public-private partnership initiative which was launched earlier this year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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Rotavius is the leading cause of diarrhoea the world over. In India, it causes around 3.34 lakh deaths every year.
The new vaccine, which will be rolled out in a phase-wise manner in the country, was expected to bring down the number of infant deaths due to rotavirus diarrhoea, said Dr H H Chavan, Pune’s district health officer.
The initiative, which was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, involved more than 300 scientists, institutions of Ministry of Science and Technology of the US government and several NGOs.
Safety and efficacy trials for the new vaccine have found that it dramatically reduces severe diseases among infants. In India, the trials had taken places at Society for Applied Studies in Delhi, KEM hospital research centre in Pune and Christian Medical College in Vellore.
As part of the pilot project, three doses of oral vaccine will be given to infants at the ages of six weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks respectively, Chavan said.
Training of trainers commenced on Monday for the universal immunization programme which will be extended to other states in phases.
The expert groups involved in the training included Dr Vijay Baviskar, Maharashtra’s immunisation officer, Dr Murlidhar Tambe, professor of preventive social medicine at B J Medical College and Dr Aarti Kinikar, associate professor of paediatrics at the BJMC.
These trainers will now go to rural hospitals and government medical facilities in the four blocks of Pune district and teach the anganwadi workers, health officials and others on how to store the vaccine, its the side effects and what precautionary measures to take.
Pentavalent vaccine to be rolled out in state The “five-in-one” pentavalent vaccine is expected to be rolled out this November across Maharashtra as part of the universal immunisation programme. Experts have certified as the safe the vaccine that will protest infants from five potentially fatal diseases – haemophilus influenza type B (the bacteria that causes meningitis, pneumonia and otitis), whooping cough (or pertussis), tetanus, Hepatitis B and Diphtheria.
“We have already received 20 lakh doses of the vaccine from UNICEF,” Dr Archana Patil, in-charge of the state’s Family Welfare Bureau, said. The vaccine has already been introduced in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, Puducherry, Karnataka, Gujarat, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir.