Author: Sana Shaikh
When a child grows up, we have to take care of its well-being at all levels. The chances of various diseases striking the child are endless. That is why; humans came up with the idea of immunization and vaccines to ensure that the human body develops internal coping mechanisms to fight various diseases.
Immunization is defined as the process of building immunity by inducing reaction-generating foreign bodies into the human system and building the immunogenic memory to fight with it. For this purpose, vaccines are made. Vaccines are biological concoctions made from the toxins of the killed or weakened micro-organisms. It aims only to generate a reaction and record the response against it. For example, when the vaccine is injected into your body, a reaction is triggered. Your immune system recognizes this response and destroys the agent. However, the immune system remembers this agent and destroys the real agents when it encounters them. It’s interesting to see how our body generates the immune response and memory associated with it.
At the social level, immunizing all children is a heavy exercise in India. To improve the quality and expanse of this exercise the Government of India started the Mission Indradhanush. Indradhanush means seven colours of the rainbow. It means, the campaign targets to immunize all children against seven preventable diseases namely Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Childhood Tuberculosis, Polio, Hepatitis B, and Measles.
The Mission Indradhanush was started by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 25th December 2014 to expand immunization programs among children by 2020. The campaign is an improvised version of the Universal Immunization Program from 1985. Universal Immunization Program (UIP) did immunize only 65 % of children in the first year of the life. To cover up the rest of the population Mission Indradhanush was introduced.
Under this campaign, Government aims to provide free of cost vaccination, along with the introduction of newer vaccines such as rotavirus vaccine, IPV, adult JE vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, and Measles-Rubella vaccine. 201 districts have been identified as the high focus districts across 28 states in the country that have the highest number of partially immunized and unimmunized children.
Statistically, until August 2017, four phases of the program were concluded. More than 2.53 crore children and 68 lakh pregnant women have been vaccinated. The rate of increase in immunization under Mission Indradhanush was 6.7% per year. Since this scheme was more focused on the rural setup, a loophole was detected. The urban setup had to be covered too. Hence, the Government of India came up with the upgraded version called Intensive Mission Indradhanush 2.0.
Under Intensive Mission Indradhanush 2.0, the emphasis is given on the urban setup as well. The cities where the immunization coverage was less than 70 % are targeted under this mission. The important partners and supporters of this mission include WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International, and other donor partners. Mass media and interpersonal communication have been beneficial in the wide reach of this campaign.
The strategy to carry out the campaign has been given below:
Communication and Social Mobilization-To increase the reach of the campaign, crew members have to conduct timely communications and deal with the various queries that come up. The Social Mobilization done through colleges, universities, schools, pre-primary schools, Anganwadi’s have played a crucial role in its coverage.
Meticulous Planning of Campaigns and sessions at all levels from local to national- Mission Indra Dhanush campaign could run well with high functioning and committed individuals that could balance vaccination targets along with the execution process.
Health officials and frontline workers training: The intensive training that vaccinators have to undergo is one key feature of Mission Indra Dhanush.
Focus on urban underserved areas was done with the help of technical partners: The slum and poverty-ridden areas, as well as well-to-do parts of urban locations, had to be recognized, and this loophole got covered under campaign 2.0.
In the Covid times, India has started the largest vaccine drive in the world. During the drive, India realized that there are gaps in Mission Indradhanush 2.0 as it could not vaccinate beneficiaries due to lockdown. So, Mission Indradhanush 2.0 has been upgraded to 3.0. The children and mothers who could not be vaccinated under the pandemic times of 2020 will be now immunized under the Mission Indradhanush 3.0.
It will have two rounds. It will conduct 250 pre-identified districts/urban areas across 29 States/UTs. Migrated people will also be covered under the drive as they would have missed the vaccine routinely.
In this way, we understand that Mission Indradhanush has had a huge background and a coming bright future that shall leave behind a legacy. The upgrades and constant improvisation of the mission are the most important takeaway from this campaign. All three versions of the campaign have given wide-reaching results and social satisfaction so far. With remaining loopholes, we expect to have Mission Indradhanush 4.0 shortly.