Sunday, April 09, 2006

Thank you Roatary... Pulse polio Programme

Every child below the age of five has to be administered polio drops on April 9 and May 21 to eradicate polio completely from the country. The polio vaccine is extremely safe and no side effects have been reported from anywhere during the past 11 years. Even children who are ill should be immunised on these two days. Every child has to be covered in the immunisation programme if the polio disease has to be eradicated. Mothers and guardians should take up the cause of polio eradication and voluntarily come to the polio centres on these two days. At present, polio is prevalent in just four countries in the world namely India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. The disease has been eradicated in all the other countries through intensive immunisation programmes. If every child is covered under the immunisation programme, the polio virus can be easily eradicated. However, in India, despite the best efforts of the government and participating agencies, five to ten per cent of children escape from being immunised every year. Consequently, even after 11 years of starting the pulse polio programme, polio has not been totally eradicated in the country, The Rotary Club has been in the forefront of polio eradication programme in the world. So far, Rotary has spent Rs 3000 crore for this project and is all set to spend Rs 2000 crore more in the coming few years. Rotary has taken the lead in funding the campaign, providing vaccines, providing cold chains and lab facilities throughout the country and the world.
Like all viral vaccines, oral polio vaccine is also unstable. It’s potency, which means it’s capacity to give adequate prophylactic protection against polio disease, decreases progressively over the course of time. The higher the temperature to which the vaccine is exposed, the more rapid is it’s loss of effectiveness. The vaccine contains phenol red as pH indicator. The usual colour is pink. If the vaccine deteriorates, there is a distinct colour change. As far as possible, only vaccine should be stored in a particular refrigerator. However, if other things have to be stored side by side, the vaccine containers should be kept in a closed airtight styrofoam box and stored in the middle or the upper shelves. A thermometer must be kept next to the vaccine box.
The temperature should be monitored to be between +20 c to + 80 C. A record must be maintained of the actual temperature daily and power interruptions, if any. A person must be made responsible for ensuring that the required cold chain is actually maintained. The vaccine containers, taken out for use, should be kept in an insulated box so that the temperature is maintained below +80 C while waiting for use.
While executing a pulse polio programme on a mass scale, some of the above mentioned vital cold chain precautions may not be strictly practiced. The reasons may be several such as ignorance, negligence, irresponsible or careless attitude, overload of work, tired and exhausted staff, routinisation of the process of programme implementation and lack of adequate supervisory control. If the sense of responsibility and accountability has not be inculcated, the desired goal of effective immunisation of every child will remain only a dream.
WHO has suggested three doses of OPV followed by one dose of inactivated injectable vaccine in India. However, inactivated injectable polio vaccine programme is far more difficult in a large populous country like ours. Therefore, experts feel that the risk benefit ratio still does not prompt us to use injectable vaccine instead of oral vaccine in India.
In order to avoid possible exposure of the OPV containers to harmful levels of temperature even for more than a few minutes, Indian Institute and Technology, Hyderabad, has developed temperature sensitive sticker lables for use on the containers of thermo labile products such as vaccines. As soon as the vaccine is exposed to a temperature higher than admissible, the label changes it’s colour irreversibly, indicating that it has deteriorated. The labels can be tailor made for fixing any desired time interval. Such labels will only add a cost of about 3 paise per vaccine container and manufacturers should start using such lables to safeguard effectiveness of their products. A country is considered to be free from a viral disease if no infected individual is found for three consecutive years.
Thanks to the effort of Rotary club abd the health persons, we have been successfully able to eradicate polio...

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