01 August 2011
By, Pushpa Narayan
The scheme is perhaps the first of its kind in the country and is intended to arrest the decline in immunisation. Health department officials have decided that under the revised Muthulakshmi Reddy Scheme every pregnant woman will be given a smart card with her medical details. The health department will transfer Rs 4,000 to her bank account after she registers with a government healthcare unit. The money is to help her have nutritious food and avoid anaemia during pregnancy. If the woman delivers at a government hospital, the state will transfer another Rs 4,000. At present, the department gives Rs 6,000 in two equal installments.
Additionally, if the mothers take the baby to the healthcare unit for all vaccinations, the health department will transfer another Rs 4,000 to her account after the 14th week. These vaccines are given free of cost. The announcement is likely to be made during the forthcoming budget session.
Senior paediatrician Dr S Balasubramaniam of Kanchi Kamakoti Child’s Trust Hospital said immunisation is a cost effective way of improving survival in children in developing countries. “The basic vaccines are essential for all children. For others who can afford it, we insist on optional ones that prevent hepatitis, pneumococcal and rota virus,” Dr Balasubramaniam said.
Every year throughout the world an estimated 27 million children and 40 million pregnant women do not receive basic vaccines and two to three million people die of diseases that can be prevented with vaccines. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS–3), only 44% of Indian children aged 1–2 years have received basic vaccines.
In Tamil Nadu, although the state health department has been claiming 92–94% immunization coverage, studies by organizations including UNICEF have shown a 20% drop in immunization coverage in the state since 2008.
“With the new scheme we will be able to track the health of the mother and child. As a long term benefit, it will help us bring down the maternal and infant mortality rates,” said a senior health official.
- State govt will pay mothers who get their newborns vaccinated as per schedule
- A mother could receive up to Rs 12,000 if she fulfils health dept requirements
- The money is meant to help her deal with the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth State sees decline in immunisation Earlier, director of public health Dr Porkai
Pandian had said the government was planning to send village health workers door–to–door to urge parents to bring babies for vaccination. The directorate of public health is training for nurses outreach programmes.
Several NGOs, healthcare activists and paediatricians complained of a drastic decline in immunisation coverage in the state. A study by Makkal Nalvazhvu Iyakkam, CHAD and Christian Medical College, Vellore, found the coverage of measles vaccination among children in the 12–17 months age group was 87.1% – at least 10% less than the figure arrived at by the government’s District Level Household Survey 3 (2007–2008).
A study by UNICEF in 2009 showed the immunization coverage had dropped to 75% in case of some vaccines. Dr Satish Kumar, UNICEF chief for TN and Kerala, said the number of vaccinations had declined since 2008.