Union Health Minister JP Nadda on Monday said that the vaccination program under ‘Mission Indradhanush’ will reach a coverage of almost ninety per cent in next three years.
‘Mission Indradhanush’, launched by Nadda in 2014, aims to immunise children against seven vaccine preventable diseases. “We came out with an ambitious program called Mission Indradhanush, which also includes (prevention of) Hepatitis B… Every year we used to increase our immunisation program by one per cent. We thought if we go at this speed then we won’t be able to reach the goal till 2050… “In one year time we will be able to cover 5 per cent and within three years we will be reaching from 65 per cent to 90 per cent of coverage,” Nadda said.
He was speaking at the Hepatitis B Awareness Drive launched by Health and Family Welfare Ministry in association with UNICEF. “In India, approximately 10 lakh children, on an annual basis, run the lifetime risk of developing chronic Hepatitis infections, leading to life-threatening issues including liver cancer, liver failure and a possibility of premature death”, he said. The minister said four more vaccines will be added in the ‘Mission Indradhanush’ program.
“Next month we are going to review and learn from some of our mistakes. Next year we will relaunch this and add four more vaccines… I am proud to say this immunisation program is world’s largest public health program,” he said. Maharashtra Health Minister Deepak Sawant said the state government will roll out ‘Nucleic Acid Test’ (NAT) program in the next three months.
“Maharashtra government is coming out with NAT where every hospital will have a NAT test, even in rural areas. It’ll cover HIV and Hepatitis B and other diseases which are transmitted through blood donation…,” he said.
“We’ve been after this for eighth months and it’ll be there in the next three months in every district hospital of Maharashtra,” Sawant added.
UNICEF Celebrity Ambassador and megastar Amitabh Bachchan said he was a Hepatitis B survivor. Nadda thanked the 73-year-old actor for giving the awareness drive a much needed push. “Society needs to be involved for health issues. Amitabh Bachchan’s involvement has pushed the campaign. He spoke about his life and that has given power to the movement,” the minister said.
Louis Georges Arsenault, UNICEF India Representative said, “Preventing Hepatitis-B through immunisation at birth and the first year of life is critical for the healthy life of a child. “If we could achieve the extraordinary feat of defeating polio, we can surely join hands and prevent this life threatening disease through timely immunisation,” Arsenualt added