India sees sharpest drop in polio vaccination since 1990s, shows data

What is the news?

Most immunisation programmes witnessed a decline in 2020. India was worst among South Asia and, in some cases, one of the worst significant economies in the world.

Data released by UNICEF shows that the immunisation programme in India suffered its worst hit in 2020, as coverage declined across all major vaccination programmes, including the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP).

What does the UNICEF data show?

Polio vaccination

The administration of the third dose of polio vaccine for children aged 12-23 months declined five percentage points in 2020, compared to 2019 — the worst drop since 1991.

In terms of overall coverage, at 85%, India’s polio vaccination levels went back to those witnessed in 2014.

chartDPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus)

In the case of DPT, the first dose for children aged 12-23 months fell by seven percentage points — the worst fall since 1991.

The last time DPT shots had registered a decline (of one percentage point) was in 2006.

Tuberculosis (TB)

Administration of the tuberculosis (TB) vaccine was also down seven percentage points compared to last year.

The last time the country witnessed a decline was in 2007.

Rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccine

Only these two vaccines witnessed an increase in coverage among children compared to last year.

The rotavirus vaccine coverage for children aged 12-23 months went up from 53% to 82%, whereas pneumococcal uptake increased from 15% to 21% between 2019 and 2020.

How does India fare as compared to other nations?

India’s performance in some cases was one of the worst among the world’s major economies.

In terms of the drop in TB vaccine, among the major economies, India was behind Mexico, Brazil and the UAE. It also fared worse than all South Asia nations, with even Pakistan and Afghanistan increasing coverage during the pandemic year.

With respect to hepatitis B, India was behind Brazil and Indonesia.

In the DPT vaccination, only Pakistan and Nepal fared worse than India in the South Asian region.

What are the reasons behind this decline?

One of the primary reasons for this seems to be setbacks to rural health manpower and its crippling impact on rural health programmes, including the government’s vaccination drives.

Acc to the National Health Mission, there has been a drastic decline in the total number of health and nutrition days (HNDs) held in thousands of villages in 2020 as compared to the previous year.

Also, there was a fall in the number of ASHA (accredited social health activist) workers recruited by the government in Indian villages. It is at these village health and nutrition days that ASHA workers compile a list of infants who require immunisation or have been left out.

Source: This post is based on the article “India sees sharpest drop in polio vaccination since 1990s, shows data” published in Business Standard on 7th Jan 2022.

Print Friendly and PDF