The Govt of India has declared 2012-13 to be the year of Intensification of Routine Immunisation. Four rounds of immunisation weeks will be held in low performing, vacant and left out areas. In UP, the first round was held in June
Afsana is part of the UNICEF supported Social Mobilisation Network which has about 5,000 community mobilisers in some of the poorest, high risk areas in Uttar Pradesh. The SMNet has been working on community mobilisation for polio eradication for over 10 years.
Afsana says sometimes mothers need persuasion to immunise their children against life threatening diseases as they fear vaccine reactions such as fever, pain and swelling at injection site. Uttar Pradesh, once a hotbed of the polio virus, has among the lowest level of full immunisation coverage for children 12-23 months in the country -- 41 per cent as compared to the national average of 61% (CES 09).
Community mobilisers track pregnant women and infants, raise awareness, persuade decision makers in the households to ensure uptake of service
The community mobilisers share an easy relationship with the families and are looked upon with respect and trust. They belong to the same community and live in the same area.
Thanks to Afsana's gentle prodding guardians bring infants to the RI site for immunisation, which in this area happens to be a local clinic. This girl takes her niece -- her brother's daughter -- for immunisation.
At the RI session happening at a local private doctor's clinic, the ANM administers the age appropriate vaccines.
Under the intensification Programme, RI sessions are also being held at construction sites to cover migrant labour and mobile populations -- likely to get missed otherwise. Women labourers use their lunch hour to bring children to the RI session happening onsite. Most of the labour on this site comes from Chattisgarh
A health worker gives Vitamin A drops to a child. Health workers say one major problem here is birth spacing. This mother (in red), 25, has 3 children -- the eldest over 3 and the youngest under 1, and she is 5 months pregnant. This leads to acute malnutrition and severely anemic mothers, and underweight children.