LUCKNOW: The world’s biggest vaccination drive against Japanese Encephalitis, initiated in Uttar Pradesh on 27 May 2007, was successfully wrapped up in 18 days. The drive covered 97 per cent of targeted 10 million children 1-15 years old in all the eleven epidemic prone districts in the State.
Japanese Encephalitis (JE) is the leading viral cause of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Asia. It is transmitted by Culex mosquito and pigs play a major role as amplifying hosts. Primarily a rural disease, the virus attacks children under 15 years of age. The only effective way to control JE, which has 70 per cent mortality and permanent disability rate, is to check the virus breeding and protect children through proper vaccination.
Large scale periodic outbreaks have been reported in epidemic forms in the state since the past four decades. The worst was the 2005 epidemic which caused death of nearly 1500 children. Since then control of JE has been on the top priority list of the State health department. In 2006, the government launched its maiden vaccination drive with a new vaccine in seven most affected districts of the state and epidemic could be controlled. This year the State government had drawn a more ambitious vaccination plan.
“We covered eleven districts and ten million children - a record of sorts,” informed Mr. Arun Kumar Mishra, Principal Secretary, Medical Health and Family Welfare, Government of Uttar Pradesh “The idea is to free all JE-prone districts of UP of this lethal disease at the earliest,” said Mr. Mishra.
“UNICEF deployed its Divisional Coordinators in 11 districts and the Polio SMNet (Social Mobilization Network) also helped in bringing children to the vaccination sites. A high level of commitment and hard work has helped in achieving such a result.” said Dr Nimal Hettiaratchy, State Representative, UNICEF, Uttar Pradesh.
Giving information on this year’s campaign drive, UNICEF Health Officer Dr Vikas Bhatia said, “UNICEF has been associated with the JE campaign since 2004. Unlike last year this year there was ample time for micro planning.
“This included a detailed listing of villages, proper estimation of children between 1 to 15 years, vaccination sites selection, identifying team members, arranging for adverse reaction kits, information dissemination through media, creating awareness in society and above all proper training of the field staff.”