Kathmandu, December 23
Although the government provides free vaccination services to all children in the country, about 13 per cent of children throughout the country still do not have access to vaccines.
The government provides free vaccinations to children for 11 diseases such as diphtheria, polio, measles, rubella, and Japanese encephalitis. There are 16,000 vaccination centres and thousands of medical professionals providing the service in various parts of the country.
However, nearly 13 per cent of children in the country have not been immunised against all the 11 diseases, and 10 per cent have only been immunised against two diseases.
The Children Health Division under the Ministry of Health has been planning to ensure that the service is provided to children in all parts of the country in coordination with the concerned district development committees, municipalities and VDCs.
The division has started a campaign to ensure free vaccination.
“We plan to complete the campaign and ensure that no child is left behind in the immunisation drive by December 31, 2017,” informed Rajendra Panta, chief of the Children Health Division.
The division hopes that working in coordination with local agencies would help enhance awareness regarding the immunisation programme among people.
The free immunisation programme was launched to reduce child mortality rate in the country, prevent children from contracting various diseases, and ensure that they have a healthy childhood.
However, lack of awareness, illiteracy, superstitious beliefs, religious and cultural practices, and poverty has been hindering the programme.
“Children from rural areas, urban slum areas, employed as child labourers, and of certain religious groups form the bulk of those who have not received vaccination,” Panta said.
He added that it was important to make mothers aware of the importance of immunising their children to ensure the success of the programme.
According to a recent Coverage Research done by the CHD, children living in rural areas, belonging to lower economic strata, from illiterate families, and with uneducated or unaware mothers were less likely to be immunised than those living in urban areas.
Also, female children were less likely to be immunised than male children, according to the research.
Under the campaign, 18 districts and about 1,500 VDCs have been declared fully immunised.
Free anti-rabies vaccine
KATHMANDU: Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital announced that free anti-rabies vaccination service would be provided until 5:00 pm every day, a service the hospital had been providing for free until 1:00 pm in the past.
Officials said the decision would benefit hundreds of people.
With this announcement, people bitten by dogs would not have to seek private care and pay high prices for the anti-rabies vaccine.
According to Dr Ramesh Kharel, director at STIDH, each vial of the anti-rabies vaccine costs around Rs 600 in private clinics, and patients need at least five vials each.
Every day, over 200 people are bitten by dogs in Kathmandu Valley.
A version of this article appears in print on December 24, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.