According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 3 million children in India missed out on their first dose of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis combination vaccination (DTP-1) in 2020. 3.5 million more children did not receive the first dose of the DPT 1 vaccine in 2019 than in 2018, and 3 million more children did not receive their first measles shot.
The DPT vaccination is a group of vaccines that protect people from three infectious diseases: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus.
According to official data released today by the WHO and the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), India saw the largest increase in the number of children who did not receive DPT 1 initially last year compared to 2019. In 2020, 3,038,000 children in India did not receive their first DTP-1 dosage, compared to 1,403,000 in 2019.
"The data shows that middle-income countries now account for an increasing share of unprotected children - that is, children missing out on at least some vaccine doses. India is experiencing a particularly large drop, with DTP-3 coverage falling from 91 per cent to 85 per cent," as per a statement by the WHO.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the childhood immunisation process around the world, resulting in about 23 million children missing out on basic vaccines through normal immunisation services.
During the year, up to 17 million children went without receiving a single vaccine, exacerbating existing significant discrepancies in vaccine access. There have been substantial disruptions in vaccination service provision in various regions of the world as a result of numerous resources and staff being redirected to support the COVID-19 response.
The majority of these children live in conflict-affected areas, in underserved distant areas, or in informal or slum settings, where they confront a variety of challenges, including restricted access to essential health and social services.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said, "Even as countries clamour to get their hands on COVID-19 vaccines, we have gone backwards on other vaccinations, leaving children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases like measles, polio or meningitis."
"Multiple disease outbreaks would be catastrophic for communities and health systems already battling COVID-19, making it more urgent than ever to invest in childhood vaccination and ensure every child is reached," he stated.
(With ANI inputs)