Jharkhand launches immunization drive for 44K kids of migrant workers
The Jharkhand Health Department identified the children during an intensive door-to-door survey. The children between age group of zero to five who stayed with their parents at workplace in different states were deprived of immunization due to ignorance or time crunch due to work pressureUpdated: Jul 05, 2020 17:30 IST
Lathmin Tirkey, 27, a migrant labourer who went to Varanasi from Jamdai village in Ranchi’s Namkum block in October last year to work at a brick kiln unit, delivered a baby in February this year at workplace but her infant was deprived of her first immunization.
A day after the birth of the baby, a relative of Tirkey took her to a health centre there for the newborn’s first vaccine. “But, we returned empty handed as there was no health staff at the centre,” Tirkey said.
She returned to her job two days later and did not get time to get her baby immunized. She did not even have the MCP (mother-child protection) card.
She returned to her home in Namkum in mid-June after she became jobless due to lockdown since March 25. After completing her mandatory 14-day quarantine, she got her baby its first vaccine here at a health centre in Namkum and also got an MCP card.
Tirkey’s baby is not alone. As many as 44,000 children up to five years of age of migrant workers who returned to Jharkhand, were deprived of immunization during the period they stayed outside the state.
More than five lakh migrant workers, who worked in different parts of the country, have returned to Jharkhand since May 1.
In a bid to ascertain the immunization status of children of migrant workers, the state health department launched a massive door-to-door intensive health survey last month. The health staff visited more than 50 lakh households in 28,000 villages and urban slum areas to identify the kids of migrant workers.The survey started on June 18 and ended on June 25.
“The survey had three objectives such as identifying people suffering with respiratory problems, cough or fever for Covid-19 test, people above 40 years of age suffering from various diseases which increases vulnerability to Covid-19. The third objective of the survey was to know the status of immunization among children of migrant workers who returned to Jharkhand,” said Akay Minz, state programme officer (SPO) for National Health Mission (NHM), Jharkhand.
The survey found 55,215 people with complaints of respiratory, cough and fever complications, while 3,39,573 people above 40 years of age had complaints of blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cancer and leprosy.
“We also identified 44,191 children of migrant workers, who either missed doses of immunization or did not have a single vaccine after birth,” Minz said.
“Parents were either ignorant about immunization or they had no time to take their children to a health centre due to work pressure at work place, particularly in the unorganized sector,” she said.
Anjali Kohya, a migrant worker who also went to Varanasi from Sodag village in Ranchi’s Namkum block, said, “I worked at a brick kiln unit along with my husband Birju Khoya. Our two children stayed with us at the workplace. Since we came to Varanasi in October, we could not give a vaccine to our two-year-old son in Jharkhand. We tried it in Varanasi but did not find the location of the health centre. Due to pressure at the workplace, we struggled to find extra time to locate a health centre there.” Khoya’s son got the immunization at her village in Namkum on Thursday.
The Jharkhand health department has now launched a major campaign to immunize these deprived children. A senior official in the state health department, who monitors immunization said they have set a target to immunize 8.30 lakh children between the age group of zero to five this year.
“We are assessing the achievement figure so far, as the immunization drive was affected due to Covid-19 pandemic. Community health centres were closed from March 21 to May 1. However, immunization exercise was on in government medical college hospitals and private hospitals,” said the officer who did not wish to be named.