Tuesday, 07 July, 2020
Madhya Pradesh - 03 May, 2020

Parents worry about kids’ health as vaccination takes a hit

With the coronavirus lockdown in place thousands of parents are preparing for a looming danger as the process of vaccination of children takes a beating... #Healthhazardinmaking...

Bhopal: With the coronavirus lockdown in place and health workers across India occupied with the treatment of COVID-19 patients, thousands of parents are preparing for a looming danger as the process of vaccination of children takes a beating.

Abhijit Pandey, a young lawyer and health activist from Indore, is worried about his three-year-old son’s health as he is unable to find a government or private institution for vaccination despite making the best efforts. The young father had no idea that the lockdown would have such an impact on his toddler. However, he is not alone as thousands of parents are facing the same fear.

The reproductive, child health and vaccination services aided by the government are adversely affected in districts like Indore that are listed in the red zone.

As almost the entire health staff, including physicians, ASHA workers and others, is on coronavirus duty in Indore, the government institutions that take care of community health are almost defunct.

After the administration closed down private clinics in the city fearing mass infection, pregnant women, infants and children have been left helpless. So far, Indore alone has reported 1545 cases of coronavirus infection, including 74 deaths.

Besides, private medical practitioners are apprehensive of the infection after two doctors, who had contracted the disease, died during treatment.

Meanwhile, Pandey has written to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Health Minister Narottam Mishra for resumption of immunisation in the state. In a response letter, Indore CMHO, Dr Pravin Jadia, said immunisation is suspended as of now and there was no plan to start in any time soon.

Arun Sharma, a resident of Piplani in Bhopal, was turned back from the Khushilal Sharma Ayurvedic Hospital initially, but was asked to come back in some time as his child was suffering from jaundice.

Locals claim that government community health centres and dispensaries are closed and most of private doctors offer telephonic advice and avoid letting patients visit the clinics and nursing homes. “The nursing homes are offering only emergency services that are being taken care of by duty doctors and nurses,” a senior pharmaceutical company executive said.

A resident of Bhopal, Nitin Vishwakarma, encountered a similar issue when he tried immunising his one-and-a-half-year-old son recently. “I prefer private clinics for immunisation but most of them are avoiding OPD and immunisation services amid the coronavirus scare,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Anup Hajela, President of Bhopal Private Nursing Homes’ Association, said, “Most of the services are intact at private institutions,” denying that OPD services are closed as patients are allowed to visit clinics/nursing homes for health issues.

“PPE kits are only required for critically-affected areas,” said Dr Hajela when asked about the availability of these protective kits.

Ishita Singh (name changed), a native of Mandideep, initially avoided doctor’s consultation over the virus scare. However, when she contacted a noted gynaecologist in Bhopal, the physician kept avoiding an appointment over corona scare. On Saturday, when Singh suffered uterus bleeding, she approached the doctor without appointment and was informed about her miscarriage, primarily due to non-availability of timely medical consultation.

For E-1 Arera Colony resident Priyanka Mishra (name changed), doctor’s appointment was easy but she could not find a functional pathology that could carry out the tests prescribed by the doctor. She was finally helped by a pathology owned by an acquaintance who collected samples from her home after she completed three months’ pregnancy few days ago.

Meanwhile, private practitioners are slowly starting immunisation services, albeit in a restricted fashion.

Dr Vinod Jain, associated with the Anushree Hospital, claimed that though routine immunisation is important, it’s a blessing in disguise that children are away from infections. However, the doctor claimed that immunisation must not be avoided beyond one month and half, adding his hospital has started limited immunisation services.

“If possible immunise babies now as after the lockdown is lifted, there could be a rush at clinics and children sans immunisation would be prone to infections,” he said.

Dr HR Pippal of Pranjal Hospital in Bhopal claimed that the delay in immunisation impacts children minimally but added that some vaccines are offered in series, which are crucial at regular intervals. “We have started immunisation at regular intervals at our clinic,” he said.

Meanwhile, State Immunisation Officer Santosh Shukla claimed that institutional (government) immunisation is banned in red zones as per the Centre’s directives. He added they are considering offering vaccines to private hospitals, if required, but with a rider that they have to administer it free of cost.

Deputy Director (ASHA) at NHM Dr Shailendra Shakalle offered a bizarre response saying he is in charge of the Accredited Social and Health Activists (ASHA) and has no idea about immunisation status in the state. He claimed that ASHA workers are only entrusted with the responsibility of coordinating with pregnant women for ensuring government healthcare benefits.

Various guidelines, including a letter from Vandana Gurnani, Addl Secretary, Mission Director NHM (dated April 20, 2020), have specified that among other things ASHA workers are responsible for keeping the data of pregnant women and immunisation.

Confusion prevailed further as Assistant CMHO Indore Dr Madhav Hassani told News18 that there were issues with immunisation due to massive coronavirus outbreak in Indore but added that fresh guidelines have been received and institutional immunisation would commence in Indore from Tuesday onwards.

(Courtesy: News18)

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