India’s Mission Indradhanush has come in for high praise in a global report card analysing the progress of 15 countries that have the highest incidence of pneumonia and diarrhoea — the two biggest killers of children aged less than five years.
The report is brought out annually by the International Vaccine Access Center, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, to assess the progress made in these countries in tackling the two diseases.
India has showed the largest positive change among the 15 countries evaluated in the report, with a seven-point increase in Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) score. This is largely due to changes in coverage of measles vaccine (MCV1) (+1%), Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine (Hib) (+35%), three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTP3) (+1%) and rotavirus vaccine (RVV) (+4%). In India, these percentages translate to a substantial increase in the number of vaccinated children.
Last year’s report, on the occasion of World Pneumonia Day, had pointed out that in India one child dies every two minutes of either pneumonia or diarrhoea.
Mission Indradhanush — the vaccination programme launched in December 2014 to ensure full coverage of all children and improve the tardy rate of increase of vaccine coverage — has been given credit for the turnaround. The report said, “The original aim of MI was to immunise all children under the age of 2 years against seven vaccine preventable diseases, a number that has expanded as new vaccines are added to the UIP. With MI, India actualises its vision towards equitable immunisation and demonstrates its commitment to the nation’s health. Over its first four phases, MI has vaccinated about 25 million children in over 500 districts (30). Along with the introduction and scale-up of new and underutilised vaccines in the UIP, MI has helped drive the increases in immunisation coverage captured in India’s 2017 GAPPD score.”
The report harboured high hopes for the intensified Mission Indradhanush that was launched recently. The government recently recalibrated the target deadline to December 2018 rather than 2020.
The 15 countries that have been assessed include India, Bangladesh, Angola, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chad, China, Niger Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia.