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Government, Civil Society Must Work Together To Expand Immunization Coverage In India

Project Syndicate: Taking Vaccines the Last Mile
Radhika Batra, medical doctor and founder and president of Every Infant Matters

“…India has a strong health care system. And in 1985, the government established the Universal Immunization Plan — a much-acclaimed program that aims to provide at least 85 percent coverage. Yet, according to UNICEF, India’s national average for immunization stands at just 62 percent, with little progress having been made in recent years. … While expanding immunization coverage is undoubtedly challenging, there is no excuse not to be making steady progress with low-cost, scalable, and sustainable solutions. To take top-down immunization schemes to the doorsteps of the disadvantaged, governments and civil society must work together to establish and expand efficient last-mile channels for vaccine delivery, accounting for barriers ranging from lack of awareness to out-of-pocket cost. … Persistent gaps in vaccination coverage must be addressed on a war-like footing. … If not, we shall continue to lose innocent lives and mothers will mourn loud and long…” (2/15).