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How India can achieve full immunisation coverage of its population

Achieving a high performing immunisation program is one of the biggest challenges in the public health-care systems of developing countries

Adar Poonawalla 

vaccines, Sanofi Pasteur
Representative Image

Immunisation is one of the greatest health interventions in history. Vaccines are a cost-effective solution, one that has aided in saving the lives of millions of infants and children from dreadful diseases. Immunisation in India has been an impending concern, despite the constant effort employed to make people aware of the benefit of vaccination. Even though there has been a gradual increase in immunisation coverage, India lacks in curbing child mortality. Currently, India accounts for 5 lakh deaths due to vaccine-preventable diseases, which is more than half of the total estimated infants' deaths annually.

In India, diseases such as measles-rubella, diarrhoea, pneumonia and the like cause most of the infant deaths every year. Latest reports by the World Health Organization reveal that a total of 1.5 million deaths could be avoided globally if there is an improvement in the global vaccination coverage.

Achieving a high performing immunisation program is one of the biggest challenges in the public health-care systems of developing countries, with accessibility being the primary cause.

A vast population in India has witnessed a set of fallbacks due to reasons like lack of awareness, limited availability of finances, high prices of new vaccines for existing and emerging diseases along with lack of adequate health delivery infrastructure. While addressing the issue of accessibility, one of the major issues faced by Indian vaccine manufacturers is lack of adequate storage facility and lack of R&D capacity. Reducing red tape on the requirement for multiple approvals will ultimately empower the various immunisation programs in India.

Advancement in technology has offered new and emerging methods to improve vaccination coverage. At a national level, the main issues in the immunisation field are low coverage, ineffective disease surveillance, and lack of response to new infections. Employing digital solutions and technology for data collection and management may aid in streamlining vaccination activities and provide vital knowledge to promote tailored immunisation programs. With the advent of mobile phones, mobile-based approach can also be applied to immunisation, especially for delivering information on immunisation to the general public. In recent times, awareness campaigns like, Swasth Immunised India has succeeded in advocating the importance of vaccine administration via a multimedia approach.

The Indian vaccine manufacturing industry has brought down the cost of vaccines, making it affordable for Indians, as well as the global population. They have made great technological advancement in vaccine production, meeting the WHO standards. As a result of this, India holds a dominant position in the global vaccine market.

The future goal should be to achieve full immunisation coverage. Implementing a four step S.E.G.A approach: (S)treamlining of the regulatory process for various approvals; (E)xploiting technology advancement ; (G)athering support from the government to spread awareness and to increase financial support for routine immunisation; (A)sserting increased funding by the government in R&D infrastructure. This will help in collectively fulfilling our magnificent dream of full immunisation.

First Published: Sun, April 28 2019. 00:06 IST