Every child will be administered rotavirus vaccine by the end of the year as Union Health Ministry is set to expand its vaccination programme across the country.
Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said the vaccine is expected to be available in all 37 States and Union Territories by September this year.
"We are committed to ending morbidity and mortality in children due to diarrhea by 2022. In our ambitious plan under the 100-day agenda, it has been decided to provide rotavirus vaccination to every child across all 37 States and UTs by September," said Dr Vardhan here on Friday.
The minister said strengthening routine immunisation programme is an essential investment for India's children, and will ensure the country has a healthy future.
He also said that diarrhea is one of the biggest reasons for death in children, and rotavirus is one of the most common causes of severe diarrhea in toddlers less than two years of age.
"Rotavirus vaccine along with proper station, handwashing practices, ORS and zinc supplementation will go a long way in reducing mortality and morbidity due to diarrhea in children," he added.
In India, 37 out of every 1,000 children born are unable to celebrate their fifth birthday, and one of the major reasons for this is diarrheal deaths.
Rotavirus is a leading cause of diarrhea in children less than five years of age. It is estimated that rotavirus causes 8,72,000 hospitalizations, 32,70,000 outpatient visits and estimated 78,000 deaths annually in India.
Rotavirus diarrhea occurs in a manner similar to that of any other diarrhea, and can mainly be prevented through rotavirus vaccination. Other diarrhea can be prevented through general measures like good hygiene, frequent hand washing, safe water, and food consumption, exclusive breastfeeding and Vitamin A intake.
Keeping in view the burden of diseases which can be prevented through vaccination, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), an expert committee, has recommended the introduction of rotavirus vaccine (RVV) in the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP).
Three doses of rotavirus vaccine are provided along with other vaccines, free of cost, under the UIP in three stages when a child is one and a half months, two and a half months, and three and a half months old.
Rotavirus vaccine was introduced in 2016 in a phased manner, beginning with four states initially, and later expanded to seven more states, making it a total of eleven states by the end of last year.
The vaccine is now available in 28 States and UTs, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, Tripura, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Mpur, Daman & Diu, Gujarat, Bihar, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Goa, Chandigarh, Nagaland, Delhi, Mizoram, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
( With inputs from ANI )