Thursday, 15 December 2016

Blog: Evolution of Universal Immunization Programme (UIP)

Vaccines have been a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases. Vaccines empower the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent diseases. As per World Health Organization(WHO), vaccinations have averted 2-3 million deaths annually. Till date, number of initiatives have been undertaken around the world to improve the immunization coverage and protect children and adults against infectious diseases.

First Immunization Programme in India called the ‘Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI)’ was launched in 1978 with an objective to increase the Immunization coverage up to 80 per cent in infants. The vaccines included in the programme were DPT, OPV, BCG and typhoid vaccines. Unfortunately, the programme couldn’t cover the targeted population as planned and was only able to cover a part of the urban population. At such a point in time, the country needed a significant programme for immunization which could reduce mortality and morbidity of various infectious diseases.

Later in 1985, the Government of India renamed Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) to Universal Immunization Programme (UIP). The main objective of Universal Immunization Programme was to reduce mortality and morbidity.

It aimed to enhance indigenous vaccine production capacity in India and establish cold chains. It focused on phased implementation of vaccines with a goal to cover all districts by 1990. Implementation of monitoring and evaluation system was also included in the programme. As time progressed, following were the key improvements introduced in the Universal Immunization Programme: 

With several improvements and successful implementations, Universal Immunization Programme is amongst the largest public health intervention measures undertaken in India. It is also amongst the largest Immunization programmes in the world in terms of- quantity of vaccine used, number of beneficiaries reached out to, number of immunization sessions organized and the geographical spread and diversity of areas covered. It has changed how cold chain system used to work, helped establish a network of outreach immunization sites, identified alternative delivery model for the vaccines and also enhanced capacity building of health functionaries and medical officers.

Keeping in the mind the progression of vaccines and their massive reach in the world, the Universal Immunization Programme(UIP) has remained focused and has prioritized number of initiatives both at the national as well as the state levels. The government of India along with multiple development partners have initiated various measures to escalate and improve the functioning and service delivery of various vaccination programmes in the country.

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