To mark the 25th anniversary of India’s first major pulse polio drive, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan is set to launch a new chapter in Mission Indradhanush 2.0 – a nationwide effort to make immunisation available to children in areas that have a poor track record for vaccination.

On 31 October 2019 – at the silver jubilee celebration of Polio eradication campaign in India – the minister will launch the new chapter to immunise children in 271 districts and 652 blocks of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (the on-ground immunisation will start from 2 December).

The reason behind the launch of Mission Indradhanush 2.0

The government of India had launched “Mission Indradhanush” in December 2014. The ultimate goal of Mission Indradhanush was to ensure full immunisation with all available vaccines for children up to two years of age and pregnant women.

To further intensify the immunisation programme, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched the Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) on 8 October 2017. The special drive focused on improving immunisation coverage in select districts and cities to ensure full immunisation to more than 90% of children by December 2018.

“Let no child suffer from any vaccine-preventable disease,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said as he launched the IMI.

According to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) baseline report of 2018, however, only 62% of children under 2 years were immunised with proper vaccination – the aim under SDG is to immunise 100% children by 2030.

Herd immunity

Despite the setbacks, each immunisation drive is designed to bring the country closer to the SDG goal. This is important because of what’s known as herd immunity – if the majority of people in a community are immune to a disease, they also extend protection to the few who haven’t been immunised. Typically this works when more than 95% people have received regular vaccines.

SDG’s 2019 report shows that India’s under-five mortality rate is decreasing – a sign that fewer children under 5 are succumbing to infectious diseases, likely as a result of immunisation. In 2018, the under-5 mortality rate (death of children below the age of 5 years) was 50 per 1000 live births which came down to 39.4 per 1000 live births in 2019.

Vaccine schedule

In March 2018, the government launched the POSHAN Abhiyaan to give Home-Based Care for Young Child (HBYC) and decrease the under-five mortality rate and infant mortality ratio. Under the programme,

  • 30.50 crores children were covered by the Measles-Rubella vaccination drive in 2019.
  • The Rotavirus vaccine to prevent diarrhoea in young children was introduced in all the states of India by 2018-19.
  • The Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine was extended to many states of India to prevent diseases like pneumonia in infants in 2018-19.
  • Private doctors were asked to volunteer to provide free antenatal or prenatal care services to pregnant women on the 9th of every month, along with government doctors, under the Pradhan Mantri Matritva Suraksha Abhiyaan.
  • There has been an increase in full immunisation coverage from 1% per year to 6.7% per year.

More needed to be done. Here’s what India needs next is:

  • Recruitment and training of doctors and nurses with expertise in maternal and newborn care to ensure fewer incidences of maternal and neonatal mortality.
  • Provision of clean, functional health facilities equipped with water, soap and electricity, within the reach of every mother and baby.
  • Ensuring vaccination of every mother and baby, starting right after the delivery until the baby attains the age of two.

This article was written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read our article on Polio: Types, Symptoms, Vaccines.

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