Kathmandu, October 28:

To check the child mortality rate caused due to tetanus, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) is expanding the School Immunisation Programme (SIP) to 16 more districts this year. The programme is starting from the middle of November and will be completed within a month.

Under the programme, all the students from grade one to grade three will be administered tetanus vaccines. The government is expanding the programmes to Dhankuta, Ilam, Phythan, Bardia, Sunsari, Dhanusha, Bara, Bhaktapur, Dang, Kailali, Nuwakot, Tanahu, Kaski, Kapilvastu, Banke and Dhadeldhura districts.

“The school immunisation programme will help eliminate the tetanus as five doses of tetanus vaccination are enough for the lifetime,” said Dr Shyam Raj Upreti, chief of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation under the Child Health Division. The operational cost of the programme will be borne by the UNICEF while the MoHP will do the implementation and planning.

The school immunisation programme will cover three doses of vaccine till grade 3. “It has proved very effective as the students attending school from grade 1 to grade 3 will be vaccinated under routine vaccination,” said Dr Upreti. He added that the government is thinking of other ways to vaccinate out-of-school kids. The government started it as a pilot programme in eight districts, namely Morang, Chitwan, Dhading, Nawalparasi, Rupendehi, Palpa, Surkhet and Kanchanpur from last year.

According to the EPI, the programme will be launched throughout the nation in next two years. The government has started a programme against tetanus on various phases. First to women of childbearing age group from 10 - 40 years are given three doses of vaccination against tetanus. The children under one year of age are given one dose of DPT 3 vaccination and three doses, one dose each up to grade 3 as routine programme. Hence 5 doses of tetanus vaccination are enough for the lifetime.

“The programme on neo-natal tetanus has also been introduced, as around 8 lakh new babies are born each year. The vaccination to childbearing age group started in 2002 has been very successful,” said Dr Upreti.