Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A Social Task: Regularizing Routine Immunization in India

Despite numerous medical breakthroughs and developments, maternal and child mortality in India continues to be one of the major health concerns, primarily due to childbirth, inadequate neonatal care and childhood diseases. A staggering 1.3 million under-5 deaths are reported each year and a significant number are caused by vaccine preventable diseases like pneumonia, diarrhoea and measles.
India’s Universal Immunization Program (UIP) is the largest in the world, but only 65% of children receive all the essential vaccines in their first year of life. According to certain surveys it is unlikely to reach its Global Immunization Vision and Strategy goals, which set targets for children reached and new vaccines adopted.
To help meet these challenges a great degree of help from the society is required. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and platforms such as Alliance for Immunization in India (Aii) can play a vital role in acting as an intermediary between grass root communities and the government. Thanks to their healthy and direct links to community, CSOs can contribute to a great extent in promoting equitable access to vaccines by informing families about outreach immunization facilities.
The role of CSOs in community mobilization and awareness is of critical importance in a country where myths and misconceptions often cloud the truth of the power of vaccines. It is important to raise awareness through activities such as effective information dissemination and making special efforts to reach out to those who live in hard-to-reach areas, are migrants or belong to a culturally diverse background.

Increasing community participation in immunization program is not only important to raise awareness but also leads to higher coverage and greatly reduces the incidents of vaccine preventable diseases. Immunization programs need continued support with proven strategies and fresh approaches to permit the ‘effective’ introduction of new vaccines. Here, the emphasis is on ‘effective’-meaning thereby introduction of a vaccine in to national immunization schedule that has a measurable impact on the epidemiology of the disease. Merely making the vaccine available in few pockets, for certain sections and for limited duration will not have any impact at national level. The ‘equity’ needs to be ensured so that the vaccine reaches to the section of the society who needs it the most.
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Monday, 13 July 2015

The Status of Challenges of Vaccination in Developing Economies

Vaccination has appreciably reduced the spread of infectious diseases across the globe. However, the importance of vaccination, especially in developing and underdeveloped countries is exceptionally great, given the fact that the risks of contracting contagious diseases like Hepatitis, Typhoid etc. are alarmingly high in such economies. 

The eradication of Smallpox and Polio are a stark reminder of the defensive power of vaccination against baneful communicable diseases in developing countries. However, despite such impressive achievements, a few seminal problems and challenges still remain unaddressed.

Common Challenges and Roadblocks: 

Limited Resource Setting 
The limited resources in developing countries act as the biggest deterrents on the way to maintaining the quality of citizens’ health. Owing to the depreciating currencies and lack of governing commitments, the immunization coverage and people’s ability to avail of vaccines fall flat in many parts of such countries. 

Unavailability of Vaccines 
In many parts of developing countries, vaccines against some of the most common and communicable diseases like Typhoid, Malaria and Dengue still remain unavailable. The reason directly owes to infrastructural and logistical challenges. Also, the point explained in the preceding paragraph acts as one of the reasons. 

Research Inhibitors 
Despite the success rate of vaccination, the need to better the existing vaccines still remains a point of concern. Most of the current vaccines were developed by determining the components that consistently stimulated antibody responses in infected patients, and often without having a very detailed knowledge of the immune mechanisms required for protection. A lot of vaccines were simply formulated with aluminium hydroxide as the adjuvant and are administered by injection. 

Although such approaches have been evidently effective in many cases, unfortunately, they have been proven completely inadequate for several important pathogens. 

As it is, developing countries have weak surveillance, limited data on diseases, and poor scientific base which consequentially culminate into a major roadblock on the way to medical research. Hence, discovering better vaccines for diseases is still a distant dream for such countries. However, with a helping hand from developed economies and responsible corporate this situation can be addressed to a great extent. After all everyone deserves a shot at life! 
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About Me

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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