Government Blamed for Diphtheria Deaths in Malappuram Dist

Published: 19th September 2015 04:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th September 2015 04:20 AM   |  A+A-

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With diphtheria taking a heavy toll in Malappuram, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has found fault with the government for not taking any serious steps against the ongoing anti-vaccination propaganda and also not strengthening the primary health service in the northern districts.

GOVT.JPGThough a campaign against modern medicine and vaccination has been going on in Malappuram and other northern districts for sometime, the government machinery has allegedly failed to rein in the false propaganda. To add to it, there was a huge disparity in the ratio of Primary Health Centres (PHCs) vis-a-vis total population of these districts. Noting that immunisation has come down in the past four to five years in these regions, IMA vice-president V G Pradeep Kumar, who is based in Kozhikode, said, “During the literacy campaign, there was a great leap in the immunisation programme. But now, there is a negative trend in Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad.”

Pointing out that simple vaccination could have prevented the diphtheria deaths, he said, “The government is not serious about the issue and has not done anything till now. It is high time that it made efforts to rein in the false propaganda.” 

Kumar also mentioned that Kerala was showing a negative trend while states such as Tamil Nadu has made a lot of progress in the immunisation drive.

IMA Public Health Assurance Committee Convener  A Althaf, meanwhile, drew attention to the sad state of the PHCs in the region. Equity is said to be the base of all health policies and it is quite evident in the WHO declaration and National Health Policy. But when it comes to Malappuram, equity remains in papers, he said. 

Currently, there is only one PHC for a population of 50,000 to one lakh, whereas the standard ratio is one PHC for a population of 30,000. When one sub-centre is specified for a population of 5,000, it is one for a population of 10,000-15,000 in Malappuram, Althaf said.  DHS Dr S Jayashankar, however, said awareness campaigns were going on in an effective manner in Malappuram and other northern districts. Admitting that there were some false propaganda against the vaccination, he said efforts were on to counter the same.

On the issue of setting up more PHCs in proportion to population, he said, “The PHCs, block PHCs and community PHCs are all very much active here.”

For his part, Indian Academy of Pediatrics national president S S Kamath said diphtheria deaths in Malappuram point to the failure in the immunisation drive.


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