Thiruvananthapuram | In view of widespread concernsover the return of diphtheria in some parts of the state, Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has directed the state government to bring in a legislation to bookanti-vaccination campaigners under non-bailable charges.
A legislation with power to take criminal proceedings under non-bailable charges should be made against those who indulged in the propaganda against vaccination without the backing of any scientific proof, the child rights panel said in its direction to the state Health Secretary. The direction comes in the wake of recent deaths due to diphtheria and over 100 confirmed cases of the disease, believed to have been completely eradicated from the state through vaccination.
Diphtheria cases were reported mainly in Malappuram, Kozhikode and Palakkad districts. KSCPCR also directed the state Health Secretary to compile a comprehensive database on the vaccination programme, being executed in the state. A full bench, comprising Commission chairperson Shoba Koshy and members K Nazir and Glory George, sought to take stock of the health situation across the state, especially in Malappuram and Kasaragod districts, where the immunisation percentage dipped drastically.
There have been reports that the reluctance of a section of people to go for vaccination was one of the reasons for the sudden spurt of the disease in some pockets of the state. An action plan to prepare documentaries, short films and video clippings should be formulated to counter the anti-vaccination propaganda and create mass public awareness in this regard, the panel said.
Enough stock of immunisation vaccines should be made available at all hospitals, and committees, headed by Chief Secretary/Health Secretary and District Collectors, should be formed at the state and district levels respectively to monitor the vaccination drives under the Universal Immunisation Programme, it said. The action taken should be informed within three months, the panel said.
Earlier this month, state Health Minister K K Shylaja had told the Assembly that superstition and some unethical treatment methods, which have been under practice in the area, contributed to the spread of the disease. The government is mulling the option to make vaccination certificates for children mandatory before granting school admission, in view of the spurt of the disease.