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Gujarat's 49.6% children not vaccinated for immunization, worst in India; setback in M'rashtra, Tamil Nadu, too

By Our Representative
In a major exposure, a top data analysis site has revealed that among larger Indian states, "model" Gujarat has the least percentage of vaccinated children -- 50.4%. Basing on 2015-16 Government of India data, the analysis, carried out by Alison Saldanha, says that other richer states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have also begun to show signs of complicity towards the health of their children.
“The immunisation rate of India’s fourth richest state (as of 2013-14 constant prices) is worse than that of some of its most backward states — Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (UP), clubbed together as BIMARU (‘sick’ in Hindi)”, Sadanha adds.
What is shocking is, says Saldanha, apart from Gujarat, the growth of immunisation coverage “in the large prosperous states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu has also particularly slumped”, says Saldanha, adding, “Maharashtra, India’s richest state, recorded a decline of 4.3% in the number of children vaccinated in 2015-16 over 2005-06. It now fares worse than Bihar which has witnessed an 88.1% growth in the same period.”
“In Maharashtra, time inconvenience (15.2%) and not knowing where immunisation shots are being administered (9.6%) were cited as major reasons for low vaccination coverage apart from the other primary reasons”, the analysis adds.
Saldanha further says, “Tamil Nadu was the state with the highest rate of immunisation at 80.9% of children vaccinated, a decade later the state has recorded a 13.8% decline. As of 2015-16, only 69.1% of children were vaccinated in the southern state with the country’s second largest economy.”
While Gujarat’s current immunisation rate is up 11.5% from the previous decade, it is now 11.6 percentage points below the national average of 62%, according to the analysis, which is based on National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data from 1991 to 2015-16.
It adds, “In 2005-06, the state’s vaccination coverage, at 45.2%, had been above India’s average of 43.5%. Further, the current numbers are only slightly higher than the figures the state reported 23 years ago, in 1992-93.”
Gujarat’s poor showing comes at a time when, across India, “the percentage of children who have received full immunisation that includes polio, BCG, DPT, and measles vaccines, has dramatically risen over 40% in the last 10 years — from the 43.5% reported during the NFHS round three in 2005-06 to 62% in the fourth round (2015-16)”, the site says.
“This is mainly due to the significant growth in vaccination coverage in UP, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand In the 2005-06 survey, these states recorded dismal percentages of children vaccinated — 23%, 26.5%, 32.8% and 34.8% respectively”, the site says.
It adds, “They have witnessed a median improvement of 97.45% — with UP registering a 122% jump — in immunisation coverage to now reach 51.1%, 54.8%, 61.7% and 61.9% of the population respectively.”
Quoting findings from Gujarat, Saldanha says, in the state “not feeling the need for vaccines (22.3%) and not knowing about the vaccines (15.5%) were the primary two reasons for low immunisation. A sizeable 10.2% attributed this to ‘wrong advice from someone’ while 8.1% felt the ‘time (for administering shots) was not convenient’.”
Quoting the British weekly “The Economist”, Sandanha says, “Possible reasons for Gujarat’s poor performance in immunising its population could be that its health institutions, clinics and nurses who provide regular check-ups and care are less efficient and capable than in many other states.”
“Short campaigns to roll out one-off vaccinations are one thing, but sustained investment in health is required to achieve long-term improvements in full immunisation,” the analysis adds.

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