Steps towards safe tomorrow: India is a great story of vaccination success, thanks to a capable surveillance system the country is now free from polio

New health policy will achieve national health goals

We all know that our health is influenced by the environment around us and our lifestyle. At one time our ancestors were scared of infection-borne diseases such as plague, smallpox, leprosy and rabies, etc.

Researchers studied these infectious diseases closely and came up with solutions to provide future generations with knowledge and protection. The main way to combat the infection in the past was to isolate people suffering from diseases, leaving them to die a tragic death alone. Over time, vaccination and the use of medicinal plants began. Seeing the benefits and the positive results, the attitude of the people changed over time and early attention was given to prevention of infectious diseases. Today scientific research and development has reduced the effect of many fatal diseases. In a few years, vaccines have emerged as one of the most successful and effective health measures in the world that save millions of lives all over the world. Mass immunization has made small pox, a disease of the past.

At a meeting in May 2012, the World Health Parliament supported World Immunization Week i.e.

World Empowerment Week. Since then, the entire world celebrates the last week of April as World

Immunization Week when campaigns are organised on a large scale to increase awareness on theimportance of vaccination and its role in a child’s health. One of the recent examples of vaccinesuccess in India is that it has been declared polio free after many successful immunization campaigns backed by a strong surveillance network.

Nonetheless, vaccination is effective only when some basic conditions are met. First and foremost is the need for a large-scale information campaign to educate society, especially parents and then a careful planning and execution of an immunization project. This practice would form an integral part of the Universal Immunization Program of India (UIP). According to the number of beneficiaries, UIP it is the largest program of its kind in the world, based on the use of vaccine only, the number of vaccination sessions, geographical spread and the diversity of the areas. This immunization program,

which started with six vaccines, currently gives protection against 11 deadly diseases. The latest vaccines to be introduced are those that prevent rotavirus diarrhoea and Haemophilus influenza

type B (Hib) pneumonia. A new vaccine against pneumonia and meningitis will be brought under UIP


Mission Indradhanush was first introduced in December 2014 and targeted partially vaccinated and unvaccinated children, especially in those districts that are difficult to reach. In the first three

stages, 28.7 lakh children were covered in 35 provinces and 497 districts of the Union territories. The 4 th phase of Mission Indradhanush began in February this year in the northeast areas of the country.

Until now, a total of 528 districts have been covered across India. But despite these achievements, a child in India dies everyday due to vaccine-preventable disease.

In India, there has been considerable change in the vaccine and immunization environment in the

last six years. Prior to the establishment of the UIP to tackle TB, Polio, Tetanus, Khasra (measles) etc., in the year 1985, no new vaccine was introduced at the national level. Between 2010-2016, pentavalent vaccine (hepatitis B, hemophilus influenza type-B, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanusvaccines), inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), rotavirus vaccine (RV) and measles rubella (MR) vaccine were introduced. Among them, the pentavalent vaccine has been enhanced at the national level.

While rotavirus diarrhoea is responsible for 78,000 deaths, pneumonia is responsible for more than 1.8 million deaths. It can be said that these new vaccines help children to lead a healthy and better life.

To ensure that every child in the country has access to health services, the National Health Policy

(NHP) has decided to extend the country's health goals in March this year. The NHP emphasises on the prevention of disease, hygiene and healthy living. It also lays emphasis on care during illness and provision of welfare. NHP is planning a strong surveillance network to strengthen the health system, which will reduce the burden of a disease. In fact, it will be a sensitive public system fully capable of achieving national health goals. Its purpose is to help the disadvantaged people of the society.