Kathmandu, June 29 :

The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) is launching a month-long Japanese Encephalitis (JE) immunisation campaign in four hyper-endemic districts, namely Banke, Bardia, Kailali and Dang to people more than one years old from next week. In Rupandehi and Kanchanpur, vaccination will be given to people below 15 years of age.

The Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) under Department of Health Services (DoHS) is the implementing body. Dr Shyam Raj Upreti, chief of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), Child Health Division, told this daily that the campaign would start in some districts. “The government has also planned to incorporate JE immunisation under a routine programme that will be started by the end of this year,” said Dr Upreti.

The effectiveness of the immunization programme has raised serious concerns due to delay in providing the vaccination caused due to lengthy government procedures in Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccine procurement. The vaccine has to be given by April and May but it will be delivered in June.

The vaccine has been delivered but the number of syringes — 24 lakh — is not not adequate. “We are trying our best to get syringes on time,” said Dr Upreti. Last year, 1264 JE cases were reported with 88 death cases. JE causes paralysis and brain damage leading to death. Each year, around 3000 get affected by JE and around 300 people lose their lives, according to Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD).

“All district level meetings and trainings have been completed,” said Manas Banerjee, acting director of EDCD.

DoHS had signed an agreement with the Chengdu Institute of Biological Products, China on May 10 to buy 35 lakh doses of live attenuated vaccine worth Rs 8 crore 24 lakh for this year targeted to all the population of 4 endemic districts and population below 15 years of age of two Terai districts.