Immunization programme takes top priority as Health Ministry Launches Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI)

Targets more than 90% coverage in districts by December 2018; Focus on urban slums and districts with low immunization coverage

Seven states in North-East India will launch Mission Indradhanush, a flagship immunization scheme of the Government of India, in an intensified manner from October 7, 2017.  Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) will focus on select urban areas and other pockets where coverage has been low. The information was shared with journalists from seven North-Eastern States (Sikkim, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland) during the ‘Media Sensitization Workshop on IMI for NE States organized by Regional Resource Centre for North-East States (RRC-NE) and UNICEF on September 23, 2017 in Guwahati.

Four immunization rounds will be conducted for 7 working days in187 districts -- 118 districts in 16 high priority states, 17 urban areas and 52 north-eastern districts -- every month between October 2017 and January 2018. Under IMI, Govt. of India (GoI) aims to reach each and every child under two years and pregnant women with all available vaccines under Universal Immunization Programme by 2018.

During the inaugural, Dr. Bamin Tada, Director RRC-NE, highlighted the status of Routine Immunization in the North-East. Of the seven states, 5 are below the national average of 62 percent. Sikkim has the highest coverage at 83 percent and Nagaland is the lowest in the region at 35 percent. A major concern in the region is lack of awareness among the people. Dr. Tada encouraged the media persons to play a key role in sensitizing communities with accurate and timely information on the importance of achieving full immunization.

Dr. C. Ravichandran, Health Specialist for North-East, UNICEF in his discussion highlighted the importance of vaccination. He also discussed on the objectives of the IMI and how it improves on Mission Indradhanush. The first four phases of Mission Indradhanush have been completed in 528 districts across the country. More than 2.47 crore children and around 67 lakh pregnant women have been vaccinated under Mission Indradhanush so far. Mission Indradhanush programme, launched in December 2014 with an aim to fully immunize more than 90% of newborns by 2020, made a substantial contribution in boosting the immunization coverage from an average 1% per year (between 2009 and 2013) to 6.7% in 2015-16, as evidenced by the Integrated Child Health and Immunization Survey (INCHIS).

Dr Maulik, Health Officer for NE States, UNICEF highlighted progress and achievement under Immunization in India and NE states. He also emphasized the mile stones achieved in journey of Immunization programme since 1978. Progress has been made in full immunization of children in North east region and will aim towards achieving>90% coverage by December 2018.

IMI aims to cover children and pregnant women who have missed out on routine dose of immunization through focused efforts and systematic immunization drives. After the completion of proposed rounds, the states are expected to undertake measures to sustain the gains from IMI through activities like inclusion of IMI sessions in routine immunization plans.In order to make IMI a greater success, 11 other ministries/departments are coming together to support the immunization drives, especially Ministry of Women and Child Development, Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Youth Affairs among others. The convergence of ground level workers of various departments like ASHA, ANMs, Anganwadi workers, Zila preraks under NULM, self-help groups will be ensured for successful implementation of the programme.

The half-day meet concluded after a series of technical presentations on Routine Immunization and Intensified Mission Indradhanush. Following a session on ‘Role of Media in Routine Immunization’ by Tahseen Alam, Communication Officer, UNICEF Assam, mediapersons came up with recommendations on improving coverage of health and RI stories in their respective states.

The media sensitization workshop was attended by journalists and editors, representatives from Directorate of Information and Public Relations, and officials from the Department of Health from all seven states. Representatives from UNICEF and RRC-NE were also present in the workshop.