Farhan Akhtar is ‘cause ambassador’ for flu prevention
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, has announced an initiative to educate parents in India about the seriousness of influenza (also known as flu) and preventing it amongst young children. Reportedly, renowned film personality, Farhan Akhtar, has chosen to spread awareness about flu prevention. Farhan’s messages will reach people via mass media and in-clinic as well.
Speaking about the initiative, Jean-Pierre Baylet, Country Head – Sanofi Pasteur India, said, “Influenza is a serious and contagious disease that often gets mistaken for common cold. As seen during the early part of the year, influenza outbreaks can cause significant morbidity and mortality and strain the healthcare system. According to the WHO, the principal way of reducing Influenza burden is by vaccination. However lack of awareness is a limiting factor in vaccine usage. Sanofi Pasteur, India is therefore embarking on an initiative to educate the masses and improve awareness on Influenza and its prevention. We are delighted that Farhan Akhtar is supporting the cause of flu prevention to ignite attitudinal change towards influenza and its prevention.”
Regarding his decision to support the cause, Farhan Akhtar said, “I was shocked to see the impact that flu has had across India in the last few months. As a parent, I was concerned for my children’s welfare and hence, consulted their paediatrician. It was surprising to learn that flu is not a common cold, but a serious viral infection that carries a high risk especially amongst children below the age of five. It was reassuring to know that flu can be prevented and children can be protected against flu through timely vaccination. This was a revelation to me, and I am sure that there are others too who have misconceptions about the disease, inadvertently risking their children’s lives. Hence, in my capacity as a public figure, I decided to support the initiative to spread the message on flu prevention.”
Adds Dr Nitin Shah, Consultant Paediatrician, PD Hinduja National Hospital, Mumbai and Executive Director, Influenza Foundation of India, “Immunisation against flu has not been given much attention in India as people have a very casual approach to it. Only in the face of an epidemic such as swine flu, immunisation is considered as an option. This is unsafe behaviour and puts others at risk. Influenza, both seasonal and year round is a serious infection of the respiratory tract and can cause severe health problems, in some cases leading to death. Vaccination is a safe prevention tool and is highly recommended for everyone especially children under the age of five.”
Since 2011, under its corporate initiative, ‘I for Immunisation’, Sanofi Pasteur India has conducted various awareness drives, such as launching a Facebook page called ‘Mothers against flu’; multiple contests to generate ideas for increasing immunization awareness and rural awareness programs in Gujarat and urban schools across the country wherein parents, students, and teachers have been educated about the importance and ways of prevention against diseases such as flu. Both Sanofi Pasteur India and Farhan Akhtar aim to create a behavioural shift from ‘ignorance to awareness to conviction’ about the seriousness of influenza and its prevention.