For the child to have a healthy life, preventive interventions must start early : from childhood into adolescence & adulthood. Most children under age five die because they do not have access to effective interventions that can combat common and preventable childhood illnesses.
Immunisation is one of the most powerful and cost effective preventive child survival interventions. It prevents debilitating illness and disability, saving millions of lives every year. Vaccines have the power not only to save but also transform lives giving children a chance to grow up healthy. Routine immunisation protects against seven vaccine preventable childhood diseases-diphtheria whoopin cough, tetanus, TB, polio, measles and hepatitis.
Unfortunately, children aged 12-23 months who are fully immunised in Rayagada district is only 34.9 percent as against the state average of 68.8. It is almost fifty percent of the state average. This could be the reason why Under 5 Mortality Rate(U5MR) is 98 whereas the state average is 75. While U5MR in neighbouring Koraput & Malkangiri districts is 65 & 73 respectively in spite of having more accessible areas, the statistics of Rayagada district is alarming. Hence, the reason of this less achievement due to reach of vaccines and frontline functionaries in the remote & geographically cut-off areas does not hold good.
The reason may be mostly due to the large number of left out and drop out children. Lack of information and awareness, inability to accept immunisation as a “must have” intervention and not knowing where to go and what to do are some of the other reasons. This is truly reflected in the Dangaria Kandha tribal villages of Niyamagiri Hills. In village Gortha, no child is ever immunised. So all are left out. As far as information on immunisation goes, nobody knows about immunisation and its benefit of saving their children’s lives from seven killer diseases. No ANM, ASHA, AWW ever visits this village which is utmost interior and situated in the undulated terrain. There are score of villages like this.
“It will be unethical to say that the children are dropping out from the complete dose of immunisation. So the coverage is less. In fact they are not dropped out but pushed out. As per the information of the District Collector Sri Jagannath Mohanty, only fifty doctors are in service in entire Rayagada district where as the need is 134. The scenario of other health personnel is extremely horrific. Even if the existing personnel are in place, they seldom go to interior but accessible villages. Some even put a plea of left extremism and avoid going. The primary reason of child death is also malnutrition. K. Singhpur is a stark example. In spite of orders from seniors, CDPO provided “Chhatua” infested with insects to children and lactating mothers. She still roams scot-free. State can not abdicate its responsibilities to quacks and providence of poor tribals by citing irrational reasons”, said Sri Rabindra Patakhandala, a budding scribe and a noted RTI activist of the district.
During a media sensitization workshop recently conducted by PECUC, Bhubaneswar, facilitated by Sri Ranjan Mohanty and Mrs Anuradha Mohanty and sponsored by UNICEF, where CDMO, ADMO, UNICEF Representative Dr. Meena Som and Collector were present, these facts were revealed and analysed.