From the Viewsroom

Healthy learning curve

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on June 19, 2016

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Linking immunisation to school admission can work wonders

The Kerala government’s plan to make vaccination mandatory for school admissions is a step in the right direction and worthy of emulation. The decision came after the State health ministry reported that nearly 35 per cent of children between ages 1 and 5 did not receive proper vaccination in Malappuram district, even though Kerala’s immunisation rate is over 95 per cent. It appears parents in this educationally backward district refuse to get their children vaccinated for religious reasons.

Preventive vaccination is one of the most cost-effective child survival interventions available today, ever since the vaccine against small pox was discovered in 1798. That’s why the news that last year eight children died of diphtheria came as a shocker. If this is the state of affairs in a reasonably literate State, the plight of children in the backward States can be imagined.

Recently, research by the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health found that two-thirds of Indian children do not receive vaccinations on time; this makes them susceptible to disease and untimely death. So, tying vaccination to primary education is the best way to ensure its proper implementation. If the Modi government can tag the immunisation campaign with its various primary school programmes including the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, it can positively transform healthcare in the country.

That said, the question of consent needs to be addressed. The government must educate parents about the benefits of vaccination, and encourage them to place their children’ right to health above religion or politics. Also important is to introduce measures to make sure that only scientifically proven, globally accepted vaccines are pushed through such a system. This calls for elaborate campaigns and combing operations, but once in place, it can revolutionise child heath in India, which 2.6 crore babies being born every year.

Senior Assistant Editor

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Published on June 19, 2016
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