This is the first in a two-part Interview. In an effort to understand health care services in India better and to help expand public awareness, World Moms Blog Senior Editor, Purnima, has interviewed a few physicians. The first in this series is an interview with Dr. V. R. Purushotham, a pediatrician in Bangalore, India. He is consulting in St.John’s Medical College, Bangalore.
Purnima Ramakrishnan: How many cases do you come across on an average everyday and out of that how many sick children recover and get healthy again?
Dr. Purushotham: At the outset, I am extremely happy and honored to be associated with an initiative like this which caters to the needs of mothers all along the globe. It is my belief that a caring and loving mother is the strongest immunity which a child can get and there is scientific evidence in support of that.
I work in a tertiary care hospital in Bangalore which caters to a large population of children both in and around the city and serves as a referral centre for about 300 sq.kms. Having specialized intensive care units we do see a good number of sick children daily and 90-95% recover well.
PR: Out of the sick children, how many or what percentage are those which could have been prevented by vaccine?
Dr.P: A good chunk of diseases which we come across are infections which affect the lungs( pneumonia), Brain( meningitis) and diarrhea. The introduction of vaccines has reduced the incidence of these diseases but cost being a limiting factor in India, the number of children who have received all the vaccines are a small population of them.
PR: What are the government policies in regards to vaccination and what is the coverage?
Dr. P: The government of India allocates funds specifically to maternal and child health in the country, and more of it would be appreciated. Having said that Vaccines for Polio, Tuberculosis,Diphtheria, Pertussis tetanus, Hepatitis B, Measles and meningitis are mandatory and supplied free of cost to all children in the country. The coverage varies between each state and region in the country with an average of 60%.
PR: What percentage of children get benefited by availing the government policies on vaccination?
Dr. P: More than 85% of the children receive their vaccines via the government sponsored initiatives.
PR: What is the immunization schedule like for children under 5 years old?
Dr. P: There is a schedule recommended by the government based on the feasibility of providing immunization for the masses and another by the Indian academy of pediatrics which recommends some vaccines which do not feature in the above schedule but has to be paid for by the individual. These vary from country to country based on the local health policies. It can be accessed at www.iapindia.org.
PR: Are there any cultural or religious beliefs that sometimes conflict with parents getting their children vaccinated?
Dr. P: More than cultural beliefs it is the pain during vaccination or a minor illness after it, even among the educated, which delays or prevents them for coming back for the next dose. Yes, there are religious and cultural beliefs but enhanced parental education is helping us overcome these lacunae.
For more of this interview with Dr. V. R. Purushotham you can read the second half this Friday, April 26th as part of our World Vaccination Week postings.
This post is the first in a series of interactions with physicians and health care workers in India by Purnima Ramakrishnan on behalf of the World Moms Blog.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by The Alchemist, our Indian mother writing from Chennai, India. Her contributions to the World Moms Blog can be found here. She also rambles at The Alchemist’s Blog.
The photograph in this post is credited to Dr. Purushotham.