By Anil Gulati
BHOPAL, India, April 26, 2017 - It is hot afternoon at the anganwadi centre located 28 kilometres from the main road inside the forest village in Hoshangabad district in central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Hoshangabad is around 80 kilometres from Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh.
In spite of the heat, mothers with their little children and adolescents are patiently waiting for their turn to be immunized. Manisha's, 45-day-old son, Saurav receives 1st dose of pentavalent vaccine, Rota Virus Vaccine and Oral Polio drops.
Her mother doesn't know the name of all the vaccines but she is was happy that these will protect her child against diseases. The anganwadi centre was part of the complex which had school, primary and middle, and the whole campus had concrete walls painted with beautiful messages on child care. Auxiliary Nurse Midwife, Kunti Thakur stays around 6 kilometres from the centre and she travels by her ‘scooty’ to come to the centre for vaccination. She tries to reach out to each and every child, mother and adolescent in her area with vaccines to protect them from diseases, which keep her motivated.
"Things have changed quite, now we have roads, though still not the concrete ones, but earlier we had to navigate through the forest and this has helped in increasing our reach" shares Dr. Rekha Singh Gaur, Block Medical Officer.
At the adjoining Health Centre at Tekapar Village, which is also located in the same district around 10 kilometres short to this centre. At the health centre in Tekapar village, we met Yasoda with her fourth child, Babita, in her lap, who was 3.5 months but fully immunized. It was immunization day and it was not only Yasoda but many more mothers, children and adolescent waiting for the immunization.
Speaking about the challenges of strengthening routine immunization Dr. Moin Akhtar, District Immunization Officer shares that earlier we had a challenge of reaching out with information to the last level, but thankfully now due to technologies like WhatsApp and have all including frontline workers in the WhatsApp group, connected so that instructions and explanation reach fast and as it is.
Michael Juma, Chief UNICEF Madhya Pradesh advises that Immunization is the right of every child and UNICEF considers protection from vaccine-preventable diseases to be a child’s basic right, like food and shelter. "We stand and support State to improve coverage of routine Immunization for every child. In Madhya Pradesh we still have around 46.4 per cent who are not fully immunized," says Micheal.