Vaccines are amongst the most cost effective preventive public health interventions and the Indian government provides adequate importance to the immunization programmes. However, the goal of reaching everyone, everywhere with life-saving vaccines faces different challenges. Discuss.

Vaccines are amongst the most cost effective preventive public health interventions and the Indian government provides adequate importance to the immunization programmes. However, the goal of reaching everyone, everywhere with life-saving vaccines faces different challenges. Discuss.
Approach:
  • Briefly discuss the importance of vaccines in public health.
  • Mention the government efforts in this regard and how they have fallen short
  • Mention various challenges faced by Immunization programmes in India
  • Mention how Mission Indradhanush is pushing immunization in mission mode
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :
Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system (hence called Immunization) to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease. Immunization is a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases, and also reduces the burden of health expenses especially for the poor. It also helps reduce indirect costs such as school absenteeism, loss of wages of caregivers, reduced productivity from illnesses etc.
The GoI had also launched Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) in 1985 to provide free of cost vaccines to all children across the country to protect them against 11 life threatening diseases, including polio, Tb, Measles etc. Despite considerable success over 3 decades, the full immunization rate in India is still low at 58.5% for rural and 67.4% for urban. In comparison, 82% of Bangladeshi children are fully vaccinated by age two.
Challenges faced by Immunization schemes:
  • Huge population with relatively high growthrate – It is a barrier in itself. To reach each and every one of such a huge cohort every year is a daunting task.
  • Geographical diversity – snow bound/ hilly areas, deserts, tropical forest areas, remote island territories are difficult to reach
  • Cultural diversity – with various religions, languages, traditions, beliefs and customs
  • Political instability – coalition governments, politically sensitive areas like Naxal/terrorist-affected areas
  • Mobile/migrant population – Reaching out to a significant proportion of such population in some states is another challenge.
  • Lack of awareness – It is one great barrier to achieve cent percent immunization coverage.
  • Low levels of education negatively impact health-seeking behavior.
  • Supply side constraints – The inadequate delivery of health services (supply shortages, vacant staff positions, lack of training); Inadequate cold chain storage to keep vaccines in proper condition
The most striking successes of Immunization have been the eradication of smallpox and polio from India. To overcome the challenges and accelerate the process of immunization, immunization in Mission Mode has been adopted through the launch of Mission Indradhanush in 2014. It seeks to cover 5% and more new children every year, with the aim to vaccinate at least 90% all those children who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated by 2020.
With strong political will and efforts of the all the stakeholders, it is possible to immunize each and every child in the country from vaccine preventable diseases. Full immunization will rescues lakhs of children from disease mortality and morbidity and is essential for social development and reduced health cost burden on the family and the country.

Subjects : Current Affairs

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