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Times of India
10 May, 2010
By Somit Sen
Mumbai, India

9 Lakh Kids didn't get Vitamin A, says CAG
The state government failed to administer Vitamin A doses to as many as nine lakh children in 2008–09 under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). This fact was revealed in the CAG report, which was tabled in the state legislative assembly recently.

Lack of Vitamin A among children causes severe visual impairment and blindness, and can lead to death. The CAG slammed the state government for ignoring child health care and defeating the purpose of the NRHM.

“The child health care programme emphasised Vitamin A solution for all children under three. It included first dose at nine months along with measles vaccine and second dose along with DPT/OPV, and subsequently three doses at six–month intervals,” the report stated. However, government data showed that 4.22 lakh children were not given the first dose and 9.03 lakh the second dose as against the targets set in 2008–09. The government target was 19.27 lakh children for the first and 19.74 lakh children for the second doses.

The state has been falling short of its targets for the past four financial years, the report observed. In 2007–08, 5.17 lakh children could not be administered the second dose of Vitamin A while 1.68 lakh children did not get the first dose. In 2006–07, 5.59 lakh children were not given the second and 4.90 lakh infants the first dose.

The shortfall also occurred while administering basic vaccines such as BCG, Measles, DPT, OPV, DT and TT, the report said. “Strengthening of services to improve child survival is one of the major components of the child health care programme. This mainly focuses on preventive aspects. For secondary immunisation, children in the age group of 5 to 6 years are required to be given three doses of DT (diphtheria and tetanus) and two doses of Tetanus Toxoid (TT) at the age of 10 and 16 respectively,” the report said, adding, “However, scrutiny of records revealed that there was a shortfall of targets for secondary immunisation ranging from 6.55% to 19.30% for DT, 9.78% to 24.63 %for TT (10) and 10.68% to 25.03% for TT (16) from 2005–06 to 2008–09.”

Sources admitted that there was a shortfall and more children could have been covered under the programme. “The records for 2009–10 would show a marked improvement,” an official said.

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