Sonebhadra, which was in the news for hunger deaths a few years back, is still grappling with another issue - about 34% kids here have never been vaccinated against fatal diseases.
This figure, as per the annual health survey (AHS) for Sonebhadra, is much higher than the state average of 8.6% kids, who haven’t been vaccinated.
Following Sonebhadra closely are Shravasti and Balrampur with figures of 36.7% and 30.3%. These numbers suggest that not all kids have access to routine immunisation despite UP heading towards getting the tag of a polio-free state.
“The AHS data is an indicator that the reach of the immunisation programme is not up till the people on the margins. Unless this is ensured, the coverage cannot be complete,” said Dr Neelam Singh, a gynaecologist and child health expert.
The survey also reveals that only 45.3% children from 12 to 23 months are fully immunised, indicating that the rest have missed routine immunisation. “Vaccination and i nfant mortality are directly linked. If a child is immunised, he is safe from several diseases. Therefore, the state has to ensure that each child is vaccinated,” added Dr Singh.
Awareness about vaccination is also poor among parents as only 68.2% kids have their vaccination cards. This indicates the rest of the children do not have a proper vaccination card, which can tell their exact immunisation status.
“You can blame it on poverty too. People often find it difficult to earn daily bread and instead schoolchildren are made to help parents so that earning can be increased. All this keeps them busy while the vaccination card gets lost,” said Dr Singh.