Save Children Movement (SCM), a conglomeration of like-minded social organizations focusing on health issues in Tamil Nadu, is conducting a national level scientific seminar on the status of essential vaccines in India in the aftermath of the closure of three public sector vaccine-manufacturing units a year ago.
SCM, which includes physicians and health experts of every category, wants to highlight the present vaccine situation in the country following the intervention of prime minister's Office enquiring the current situation. The national level seminar will be held on February 7.
Earlier, demanding restoration of vaccine productions in these units (PII Coonoor, CRI Kasauli and the BCG-Lab, Chennai), the movement had conducted agitations and awareness programmes like public signature campaign in all the districts of the state. Consequently the signed banners were sent to the PMO along with 20,000 post cards signed by students, mothers, government employees, social workers, doctors and para medical staffs. Several agitations including protest marches were also held.
The movement has been insisting on the government to repeal the production suspension order served to the three vaccine manufacturing companies by the Union health ministry in January last year for non-compliance of good manufacturing practices. Now, though the ministry is thinking of reviving two units out of three, no decision has yet been taken regarding the Chennai based BCG Laboratory, where the post of director is also vacant for six Months. Eight crore vials of BCG vaccination against tuberculosis were being supplied by the Chennai BCG Lab for the last 60 years.
Eminent doctors including government paediatricians, directors of the closed vaccine manufacturing units and those from private vaccine companies, eminent economists, representatives from national level NGOs, Members of Parliament and state Assemblies and journalists will be invited to the seminar, said Dr Rex Sargunam, convener of the movement. He said organizations like Health Development Association, Chennai Community Health Cell, All India Democratic Women's Organization and Central Government Employees Association will support the national level programme.
Dr Rex said the country's National Immunization Programme is one of its most effective public health initiatives. The suspended institutes, PII Coonoor, CRI Kasauli and the BCG-Lab, had catered to most of the programme's requirements till January 2008.