Govt should ensure adequate funds for immunization programmes - Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 2.0.

• Immunization is considered the backbone of the health system

• In addition to saving lives, vaccination can free families from catastrophic health spending and lost earnings by preventing illness and the need for treatment


India begins 2020 on an ambitious note. In December 2019, the government launched the Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 2.0, a programme that seeks to escalate efforts to achieve the goal of attaining 90% national immunization coverage between December 2019 and March 2020.

Immunization is considered the backbone of the health system. It is an extraordinary public health investment that can provide tremendous economic and social gains by reducing mortality, preventing illnesses, and protecting individuals from catastrophic treatment expenditures. In addition to saving lives, vaccination can free families from catastrophic health spending and lost earnings by preventing illness and the need for treatment. In India, where almost 65% of health spending is paid out-of-pocket, vaccines can protect families from being pushed into poverty because of the catastrophic treatment costs.

With a target cohort of approximately 26 million children and 30 million pregnant women, India’s Universal Immunization Programme is one of the largest public health programmes in the world. Over the years, India has strengthened its capacity to immunize its children. Since 2011, seven new vaccines have been introduced into the programme. More and more vaccines are now manufactured indigenously, making the programme more viable and the nation self-sufficient.

With the aim to improve coverage, the government launched Mission Indradhanush in 2014. Over 30 million children have been vaccinated up to March 2019. The initiative has been followed up by two iterations of IMI to close coverage gaps and improve health equity. India dedicates significant funds to protect its children from vaccine preventable diseases.

In 2013-14, India spent ₹4,247 crore on the UIP, and this increased by 6% to ₹4,502 crore in 2015-16. In 2017-18, India spent ₹ 6,864 crore on its immunization programme. This amount predominantly included vaccine costs and costs of shared personnel, which refers to those workers who are not fully employed on the immunization programme, but dedicate a share of their time to it.

While the Indian government has been providing a large share of this funding for the UIP, our country has been fortunate to receive support from global partners, such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which have provided catalytic funding, particularly to help accelerate the introduction of new vaccines. India has been eligible for and receiving Gavi support since 2000, but this support is scheduled to phase out within the next two years. India is in the accelerated transition phase and is currently projected to transition to fully self-financing in 2021. It will be fully funding its vaccination programme from 2022, despite an estimated 80% increase in the cost of the programme by 2022 as compared to 2017. Two years from now, it will need to spend ₹ 12,364 crore on vaccines and shared personnel costs. As the vision of the country’s immunization programme expands, the government should ensure adequate allocations for the programme to be able to sustain and build on the gains of the immunization efforts so far. (Source: Livemint)

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