Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Universal Immunisation: Towards a Healthy Future

The draft National Health Policy 2015 has included Routine Immunisation as the key driver to a healthy India. With the objective to enhance access to preventive health to children, since 1985, Government of India has initiated the Universal Immunization Programme. The program consists of vaccination for seven diseases- tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertusis (whooping cough) tetanus, poliomyletis, measles and Hepatitis B. In 2014, four more vaccines were added to the programme, namely rotavirus, rubella and Japanese encephalitis, as well as the injectable polio vaccine.

Draft Health Policy 2015 recognises that the immediate challenge to Universal Immunization Program is to increase immunization coverage with quality and safety. There is a five-level supply chain for vaccines in India. This chain begins with government medical supply depots. These depots supply state vaccine stores, which, in turn, supply regional vaccine stores. Vaccine is sent from the regional stores to district vaccine stores, which, in turn, supply to the last links in the chain: the primary or community health centres that act as peripheral vaccine stores.

Within this chain, all vaccines except the oral polio vaccine should be stored at 2–8 °C – either in walk-in coolers or ice-lined refrigerators – and be transported in cold boxes with ice packs that have been allowed to reach 0 °C

WHO notes that India's vaccine cold chain system is not robust enough to prevent loss of potency during storage and transport.

In India, the Universal Immunization Programme targets 27 million infants and 30 million pregnant women every year.

Many first-generation vaccines have not been developed with the specific needs of countries with poor infrastructure for vaccine delivery in mind. This is a much needed exploration of how to tackle one of the greatest public health and logistics challenges in the developing world- distributing life-saving vaccines without the requirement for large bulk shipments, expensive warehousing and costly, difficult-to-maintain refrigerated shipping paths from the manufacturing plant to the patient.

Temperature changes can compromise the effectiveness of immunization, shorten their shelf life and hamper the delivery of lifesaving vaccines to children in greatest need.

In order to mitigate the need gap of immunisation, Hilleman Laboratories aspires to become a ‘Center of Excellence’ for the effective and affordable development, delivery and distribution of vaccines to fight the diseases prevalent in under developed regions of the world. The organisation is focused to create safe, low-cost vaccines that are heat stable and will not require cold chain to retain efficacy. These vaccines should be easy to store, administer and transport to increase immunisation coverage and safety to enhance access to cost-effective and potent vaccines to all.

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Hilleman Laboratories is a global vaccine research & development organization focused on making affordable vaccines using innovation to address gaps that exist in low resource settings. Hilleman Labs acts as a catalyst in bridging the gap between academic research and product development by targeting novel vaccines and increasing the efficiency of existing vaccines. Know More

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