GUWAHATI, India, 6 April 2015 - Mission Indradhanush (MI), a four month intensive campaign to reach the unreached, was launched today in the State. The state-level campaign is part of a nationwide initiative, launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to improve immunization coverage in the country.
According to available data, only 65 per cent of the children in the country, receive all vaccines during the first year of life and 8.9 million children continue to be deprived of all vaccines that are available under the Routine Immunization (RI) programme.
The Mission focuses on interventions to expand full immunization coverage in India from 65 per cent in 2014 to at least 90 per cent children in the next five years, through special catch-up campaigns.
In Assam, according to Annual Health Survey 2012-13 data, the immunization coverage is at 64.4 per cent. Eight districts in the State-Bongaigaon, Darrang, Dhubri, Goalpara, Hailakandi, Karimganj, Kokrajhar, and Nagaon have been identified as high focus for Mission Indradhanush.
A day-long orientation workshop on Mission Indradhanush and the larger Routine Immunization program was organized for media persons from Guwahati and the eight MI districts to sensitize them and seek their support in awareness-raising amongst communities and also to urge them to fulfil their responsibilities of ensuring accountability and effectiveness of Government programmes through impartial and objective reportage
The event was held on 31 March , a week before the launch and the first phase of the 4-month campaign from 6-12 April, 2015.
Senior Journalist and workshop moderator, Mr. Samudragupta Kashyap, welcomed participants from the eight districts and Guwahati, and outlined the objectives of the workshop.
He stressed upon the importance of full immunization for all children below two years of age to protect them from seven vaccine preventable diseases. Mr Kashyap also said that the aim of the workshop is to provide state and district level media persons with technical knowledge about all aspects of immunization, and present a broader perspective of RIs importance in the overall sphere of public health, and facilitate dialogue with health experts.
The inaugural session was attended by Dr. Atul Gogoi, Jt. Director, Universal Immunization Program (UIP) Assam; Dr. J.N Barman, Director, Department of Health Services (Family Welfare) and Mr. Vedprakash Gautam, Officer-in-Charge, UNICEF Assam. Dr J. N Barman, Director, DHS (FW) stressed on the importance of effective partnership between the media and the State Government in Assam; and also stressed on the need for media to play a pro-active role during AEFI occurrence through balanced and accurate reporting.
Dr. Ajitkumar Sudke, Health Specialist, UNICEF Assam, during the technical session, provided an overview of Routine Immunization status in Assam.
He shared that the eight high focus MI districts in Assam, have an estimated 101,000 number of missed (partial and unimmunized) children and contribute to 44% of overall missed children in the State thus making it necessary to intensify the RI programme in these districts. Assam, overall, contributes to 3% of the missed children in India.
The workshop concluded with a panel discussion involving prominent media persons as well as functionaries from the State Health Dept. T K Rajalakshmi, Deputy Editor, Frontline; Radio Journalist and Producer, from RED FM, RJ Mandy, Dr Joydip Bhattacharya, District Immunization Officer, Dhubri participated in the discussion and provided valuable insights.
The panel discussion was moderated by Indian Express Journalist, Mr. Samudragupta Kashyap. Ms. Rajalakshmi while noting the issue of inadequate immunization coverage, stressed that while demand generation is important, service delivery is also a critical component that journalists should address in their reporting.
She also stressed on the need to focus on improving the condition of frontline health workers and motivating them through quality trainings and other incentives to ensure success since along with media, they are also critical to create an enabling environment for RI in a state.
The workshop was attended by nearly 60 participants including media persons and health dept. functionaries and went a long way in creating a network of committed and informed journalists who can contribute to raise awareness and generate demand for RI in the state. The event ended with a vote of thanks by UNICEF.