Early-Earth-atmospherePune: The trend-setting Medicare Foundation Multispeciality Hospital on Tuesday launched a unique initiative — free vaccination for all girls up to the age of five.

On the first day, around one-and-half dozen girl children, some newborn and others recently born — both in this hospital and elsewhere, were administered the necessary vaccination doses free of cost.

The president of the Foundation Ganesh Rakh said that henceforth all girls born in the hospital’s maternity wing as well as girls up to age of five from anywhere shall be entitled to free vaccination at this hospital in Hadapsar.

“Normally, around a dozen different types of important vaccines are given to all children upto the age of five for immunity against various types of illnesses and diseases. The minimum cost of these vaccines is around Rs.30,000, plus the charges of the medicos and hospital where the doses are administered at required intervals,” Rakh told IANS.

The hospital gynaecologist Anil Chavan said that only one major vaccine for pneumonia costs around Rs.16,000 for the entire course, which is beyond reach of lower middle-class and poor patients.

“All these vaccines are compulsory for the children as they prevent maximum number of diseases or infections in the tender age till five years,” Chavan explained.

Citing a WHO report of 2012, Rakh said that owing to lack of proper vaccination for female child, there was a mortality rate of 75 percent among the young girls between 0-5 years of age in India and China, mostly due to lung-related ailments.

Through the new initiative, Rakh and Chavan said the attempt is to make aware of the dangers of depriving the young female child of proper vaccination which can create huge problems for them in future.

“The alarming situation is that in a family where there is also a male child, he is given all the required vaccination, but the female is deprived on flimsy excuses by the parents,” Rakh said.

He appealed to other hospitals and paediatricians in India to consider administering free vaccination to all female children, or at the least, give them maximum discount so that maximum poor people can take advantage.

The hospital shot into prominence three years ago when it announced free delivery for every girl child born in the hospital, besides free neo-natal intensive care for the female child.

Last year, it again grabbed headlines by announcing totally free treatment at its state-of-art burns centre to treat all female victims of burns or acid attacks from anywhere in the country totally free of cost.