Full immunization against preventable childhood diseases is the right of every child. With a view to provide this right to every child, the Government of India launched the Universal Immunization Program (UIP) in 1985, one of the largest health programs of its kind in the world.
Despite being operational for over 30 years, UIP has been able to fully immunize only 65% children in the first year of their life and the increase in coverage has stagnated in the past 5 years to an average of 1% every year.
To strengthen and invigorate the program and achieve full immunization coverage for all children at a rapid pace, the Government of India launched Mission Indradhanush in December 2014.
Mission Indradhanush will ensure that all children under the age of two years and pregnant women are fully immunized with all available vaccines.
Simply put - because children are dying due to entirely preventable diseases.
Every year in India, 5 lakh children die due to vaccine-preventable diseases.
Another 89 lakh children remain at risk, because they are either unimmunized or partially immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases.
Partially immunized and unimmunized children are most susceptible to childhood diseases and are at a much higher risk of dying as compared to fully immunized children. If that were not reason enough, immunizing children can go well beyond saving individual lives. It can help in preventing large-scale outbreaks of diseases as well as keeping the disease under control in an area, thus reducing the stress on an already burdened health system.
Thus, full immunization is critical if we want to reduce child mortality and progress on socio-economic indicators.
The ultimate goal of Mission Indradhanush is to ensure full immunization with all available vaccines for children up to two years and pregnant women.
The Mission is strategically designed to achieving high quality routine immunization coverage while contributing to strengthening health systems that can be sustained over years to come. In the last few years, India’s full immunization coverage has increased only by 1% per year. The Mission has been launched to accelerate the process of immunization and achieve full immunization coverage for all children in the country.
The Government has identified 201 high focus districts across 28 states in the country that have the highest number of partially immunized and unimmunized children.
Mission Indradhanush will target these districts through intensive efforts and special immunization drives to improve the routine immunization coverage in the country.
To know more about how this takes place, click here.
April 2015 | The first round of Mission Indradhanush was flagged off on 7th April 2015 across all 28 States and Union Territories garnering an enthusiastic response.
It was made possible by the concerted efforts of union and state governments and various development partners such as PHFI, WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, Rotary, BMGF, CORE, Care among others. Various NGOs working at regional or state levels also supported the program in their capacity, locally. The Control Room for monitoring Mission Indradhanush was set up at Immunization Technical Support Unit (ITSU) of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
In April around 2.1 lakh sessions were conducted where nearly 21 lakh children and 5.4 lakh pregnant women were vaccinated and more than 52 lakh antigens were administered.
To increase the awareness and reach of Mission Indradhanush, involvement and support was solicited from other departments like Women and Child Development, Information and Broadcasting, Urban Development, Defence, Railways, Panchayati Raj, Municipal Corporations etc.
While initially the Mission was to address 201 high focus districts, the enthusiasm generated around the campaign saw some states take a pro-active stance, such as Himachal Pradesh which had no districts in the high focus group and yet conducted intensive immunization sessions in alignment with the Mission. Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan also made most of this opportunity and did not restrict campaign activities to the focus districts but expanded them to include other districts as well. In fact, Madhya Pradesh launched MI in all 51 districts of the state. Bihar is also planning to give shape to an expanded version of Mission Indradhanush.
The main pillars of implementation of Mission Indradhanush are micro-planning and activities supporting IEC (Information, Education & Communication). Meticulous planning was done based on counting of children who were either left out or dropped out of the immunization schedule. Sessions were planned keeping in mind the aim and strategy of the Mission to reach poorly covered areas. Strong emphasis has been laid upon communication and social mobilization efforts, to generate demand for immunization amongst the population otherwise covered poorly.
Personnel engaged with different aspects of the immunization program were specifically trained for the implementation of the Mission’s goals including Medical Officers, frontline health workers, data handlers, cold chain handlers, finance officers and IEC nodal persons.The long-term goal of Mission Indradhanush is to strengthen the health system through collaboration of central and state governments and development partners, identification and leveling of the gaps in existing routine immunization program, development of human resource, and a sustainable effort in expansion of micro-plans for routine immunization.
May 2015 | The second round of Mission Indradhanush was held from 7th May 2015 onwards. The focus continued on covering unimmunized and partially immunized children. All States & Union Territories renewed their efforts after a brief but intensive spell of review and revisions of their plans.
Around 2.3 lakh sessions were successfully conducted covering more than 18 lakh children and around 5.4 lakh pregnant women.
Important lessons learnt from the first round of the Mission were collated based on immunization coverage and feedback from various monitors. Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, Additional Secretary & Mission Director, National Health Mission, and Joint Secretary (RCH) communicated this feedback to health authorities of all States & Union Territories. It became the basis for improving and building upon for greater success in the second round. The Joint Secretary (RCH) conducted intensive discussions with the States and Union Territories to review the preparation for the second round where problems highlighted by the latter were also taken into consideration.
A larger number of districts intensified their communication activities in the second round and reviewed and revised their operational plans. Training sessions were organized and IEC activities undertaken to fill the gaps identified during the first round. Strategic methods were employed to increase immunization coverage such as deploying mobile teams especially in urban areas and at brick kilns and construction sites.
Monitoring is an integral part of the program and continued in the second round also. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare deployed National Monitors to high focus districts where they monitored preparations, analyzed their findings and provided constructive feedback to the district authorities for further improvement.
June 2015 |The third round of Mission Indradhanush special immunization drives began from 7th June 2015 across 28 states and union territories. A review of the Mission was conducted by the Hon’ble Union Health & Family Welfare Minister, Sh. J. P. Nadda preceding the on ground activities of the third round, which involved State Health Ministers, Principal Secretaries, Mission Directors, state immunization officers. Commitment at the highest level was reiterated at both the central and state levels.
In the third round of special immunization drives, around 2.5 lakh sessions were successfully conducted reaching out to more than 17.4 lakh children and around 4.8 lakh pregnant women were immunized against Tetanus. Nearly 4.9 lakhs children were fully vaccinated. A total of 43.9 lakhs antigen administered to children and pregnant women.
Many states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, especially focused on strategy of mobile teams to reach to difficult areas and unreached population. The mobile teams moved to various locations like brick klins, construction sites etc.where they vaccinate children at one place and then move to cover multiple locations in a single day. Despite heavy rains and floods in many states, especially in the North East, most states continued their efforts and conducted the immunization drives, except Mizoram. Additionally, Bihar launched a similar campaign in districts apart from those earmarked under Mission Indradhanush as high focus areas, to strengthen routine immunization.
Since April, when the special immunization drives began, more than 14.5 lakh children have been fully immunized through the Mission Indradhanush initiative across 29 states and UTs in the country. Additionally, 13.8 lakhs doses of Vitamin A, 11.8 lakhs packets of ORS and 37.9 lakhs of Zinc tablets have been distributed to children.
July 2015 |The fourth round of phase 1 of Mission Indradhanush (MI) was held in July 2015. All States and Union territories (UTs) reached out to partially vaccinated and unvaccinated children in their high focus districts to achieve maximum full immunization status. The success of the Mission Indradhanush is evident from the fact that more than 20 lakh children were fully vaccinated during the four rounds of Mission Indradhanush. The learnings from the previous rounds provided the background for fine-tuning of micro-plans and communication activities. The feedback was sent to States/UTs from Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), based on the findings of national monitors from various organizations including WHO and UNICEF for further action.
In order to supplement the activities of the State Governments for communication and IEC, MoHFW directed the states to release the IEC/BCC budget as per the tentative communication plans. This was undertaken to further strengthen the efforts for communication activities and bringing increase in visibility to the overall mission.
In July round, a total of 2.6 lakh sessions were held and during these sessions about 46 lakh vaccines were administered to 23.8 lakh beneficiaries of which 18.7 lakh were children and 5.1 lakh were pregnant women. More than 5 lakhs children were fully vaccinated in this round. Administration of, Vitamin A doses to children and distribution of ORS packets and Zinc tablets continued in July round too. Though heavy rains affected the immunization drive, especially in the north-eastern states, but immunization activities were not stopped at all. Only Mizoram state could not conduct the third and fourth of Mission Indradhanush due to heavy rains.
In these 4 rounds, more than 190 lakh antigens were administered to more than 97.9 lakh beneficiaries of which 76.8 lakh were children and 21.1 lakh were pregnant women.
In addition, 20.5 lakh doses of Vitamin A were given to children and 17.1 lakh packets of ORS and 57.3 lakh Zinc tablets were also distributed to children since commencement of Phase I of Mission Indradhanush on 7th April 2015.