The Madhya Pradesh health department is expecting to meet its child immunisation targets in a week-long Bhagoria festival that is likely to draw at least 3 lakh couples and children, officials said on Sunday.
The department has planned to immunise about one lakh expecting mothers and newborns during the tribal congregation. The festival, which recognises elopement as a marriage ceremony, will begin in Khargone’s Bista village on March 16 and conclude on March 22. Tribals of Jhabua, Dhar, Barwani, Khandwa, Khargone and Alirajpur districts of western MP are set to participate in the festival.
The health department, which is trailing behind its annual target of immunisation, is eyeing the tribal children to get the figures.
According to the National Family Healthy Survey-4 for 2015-16, in Madhya Pradesh, average annual immunisation among children below five years is about 66.4%, which means every one kid among three is left without vaccination. In Indore division, this figure is 64%.
As per the data made available by health department, Indore, across the state there are 1.8 million babies born each year. When it comes to Indore division, it is around 2.5 lakh babies born every year, but even after using all possible means and resources, only 1.9 lakh newborns were immunised against preventable diseases.
Health department officials said one of the prominent reasons behind low average of immunisation in the division is the presence of 42 tribal-dominated blocks.
“There are 313 development blocks in the state, out of which 89 blocks are tribal-dominated, which is around 28.43%. For us, the situation is more challenging when it comes to Indore division as 75% blocks are tribal-dominated,” Sharad Pandit, joint director (health) said.
“There is a lack of awareness about immunisation among tribals, a majority of them are nomads. They go job searching in Maharashtra, Gujarat or in big cities of Madhya Pradesh. This is not only taking toll on their kids’ health, but also affecting annual average at large,” Pandit said, adding all these tribals return for the festival and hence the department was targeting the festival to carry out maximum immunisation.
He said the health department was planning to vaccinate around one lakh pregnant mothers and the newborns during the period. “For this, we had called a coordination meeting with block medical officers (BMO), ASHA workers from different areas and hopefully we will achieve our target,” he said.
Number of blocks in MP 3,13, 313
Number of tribal blocks in MP 8,989
Number of blocks in Indore division 5,656
Number of tribal blocks in Indore division 4,242
Babies born in state each year About 18 lakh
Newborns vaccinated annually in state 12 lakh
Newborns vaccinated in Indore division 1.9 lakh