WHO using Indian polio network to support Mission Indradhanush

WHO using Indian polio network to support Mission Indradhanush

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is utilising India's existing polio network to support the government's ambitious 'Mission Indradhanush' as well as other routine immunisation strengthening programmes.

For the purpose, more than 300 medical officers of WHO India, spread across the country, have been involved in the training of officers and frontline workers in various states and districts, WHO Representative to India Nata Menabde said.

"In addition, over 2,000 field monitors have been deployed by WHO India to monitor the quality of immunisation activities and provide real-time feedback to the government on the implementation process and quality of immunisation coverage in the targeted high risk populations," Menabde told PTI in an interview.

Launched last December, Mission Indradhanush aims to cover by 2020 all such children, who are either unvaccinated or are partially vaccinated against seven vaccine-preventable diseases -- diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis B.

Talking about WHO's association with the Mission, Menabde said, "The WHO Country Office for India has been providing strategic and technical guidance to the government on RI strengthening as well as introducing new vaccines under the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) with the purpose of strengthening routine immunisation in the country."

"Intensive efforts are also being undertaken to accelerate action to increase awareness and demand for immunisation by communities and provide improved vaccination delivery services," she added.

WHO India is also helping in capacity-building of health staff, developing field guidelines and training material for meticulous planning of immunisation activities, and intensive monitoring of routine immunisation activities, she said. 

Lauding the Indian government for focusing on children who are either unimmunised or partially immunised under the national immunisation programme, Menabde said, "We welcome and commend the government for this path-breaking initiative.

"Mission Indradhanush or the rainbow, depicting seven colours of life, will protect children against seven life-threatening diseases nationwide with special thrust in 201 high focus districts with weak immunisation coverage."

"The Mission heralds a renewed national and sub-national effort to accelerate action for increasing awareness and demand for immunisation by communities, and improved vaccination delivery services."

Asked whether total immunisation is possible in India, going by its huge population and vast stretch of land, Menabde said, "The revised process of microplanning, based on lessons learnt from the polio campaigns, will ensure that all high risk areas and populations are reached by vaccinators during this drive. Like polio eradication, full immunisation coverage is also an achievable goal."

According to her, the Mission with its strong focus on tackling communication and operational issues, would be successful in reaching out to that last child with all vaccines under the UIP.

"It will help India in closing the immunisation gap and reaching equity in immunisation. The health systems will be further strengthened and the country will move faster towards Universal Health Coverage.

"The Mission is a phased immunisation catch-up campaign to expedite full immunisation coverage, especially in the high focused districts of India," she stated.

The government has also undertaken several strategies to increase routine immunisation coverage in the country. Besides detailed analysis of high-risk groups to include all high priority districts for focused interventions, the Centre has planned vaccination sessions through revision of micro plans in all blocks and urban areas.

Last week of April is celebrated around the globe as the 'World Immunisation Week' aiming at raising awareness among people as how immunisation can save lives. This year WHO's theme was 'close the immunisation gap'. 

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