“Mission Indradhanush” targets India’s unvaccinated children

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 26 March 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1688
  1. Cheryl Travasso
  1. 1Mumbai

A media campaign to encourage the uptake of childhood vaccination in India was launched this week, with the aim of 90% of children receiving full vaccination by 2020.

Health Minister J P Nadda launched the publicity campaign for “Mission Indradhanush” on 23 March. It included plans for television and radio adverts, banners, posters, hoardings, and a song composed by Javed Akhtar and sung by Sonu Nigam and Alka Yagnik.

The Mission Indradhanush initiative was launched last December to improve the uptake of seven childhood vaccines—diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, polio, tetanus, tuberculosis, and whooping cough—which increased by only 1% a year from 2009 to 2013, from 61% to 65%.

India’s universal immunisation programme is among the largest in the world and is available for all children in the country free of charge. Almost 10 million of the 27 million children born in India every year are either not vaccinated or receive partial coverage. And it has been estimated that a third of the 1.5 million deaths among children every year could be prevented with vaccines. Mission Indradhanush, which is targeted at children under 2, will work alongside routine vaccination to increase coverage by at least 5% every year, the government said.

The mission will comprise four rounds of activity lasting one week each, during the months of April, May, June, and July. During these times healthcare workers will go from one village to another to systematically vaccinate all the unvaccinated children. The four rounds will ensure that those who were missed in earlier rounds will be covered later. In phase one, 201 districts with some of the largest numbers of children who are unvaccinated or have partial coverage will be targeted, 82 of which are in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Bihar. During phase two, later in the year, another 297 districts will be added.

The polio eradication programme has taught public health officials how they can improve the uptake of vaccination. Several factors will be important for the success of Mission Indradhanush, including training of health officials, monitoring, leadership, provision of microplans, as well as support from political and developmental partners and the media.

Speaking at the launch of the media campaign, C K Mishra, additional secretary and mission director at the National Health Mission, said that 65-70% of those who miss out on vaccination do so because of a lack of awareness or a fear associated with the vaccines. He emphasised the importance of social mobilisation and communication to ensure the success of the mission.

Ramanan Laxminarayan, vice president for research and policy at the Public Health Foundation of India, said that it was important to increase the numbers of social health activists and auxiliary nurse midwives, who will be delivering the programme, and to keep them motivated. A successful mission would help to build a strong platform for maternal and child health and nutrition, he said.


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1688

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