Our Bureau

Hyderabad, Dec. 23

The State Government is pitching for a combination vaccine (for DPT and Hepatitis-B) that saves the number of pricks on children, while offering convenience to the administration in catering to more users.

Mr K. Rosaiah, Minister for Finance and Health, said that the State would take it up with the Union Government to facilitate the usage of the combination vaccine.

Addressing a gathering after launching the media campaign for strengthening the immunisation programme here on Friday, he said the new mode of vaccine was useful.

He was referring to the plea of Dr Raj Kumar, Director (Immunisation - India) of PATH, that the Government should take steps in order to switch over to the next generation vaccine.

The cost of the new vaccine had significantly come down after more players coming into the picture. "It will come down further," Dr Raj Kumar said.

On the campaign, he said the first phase of the campaign launched by PATH (Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health) had yielded good results. The effort was an orchestrated one, involving a variety of stakeholders. "The immunisation programme could reach to 70 per cent of the 16 lakh infants born every year. The challenge is to reach out to the remaining children, while ensuring quality," he said.

Dr I V Subba Rao, Principal Secretary (Health, Govt of AP), said the Government was in favour of the combo vaccine.

Experts, however, felt that the cost factor still weighed against the combination vaccine. "It is costlier by seven to eight times," an expert said on the sidelines of the meeting.

Dr Subba Rao said it was important to ensure administration of vaccines on time. Sensitisation of communities on the need for immunisation was also important.

"Availability of vaccines is not an issue. The demand side intervention is important," he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 24, 2005)
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