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“Let us resolve that no child and a pregnant woman will be left unprotected against Vaccine-Preventable Diseases”

The Swedish Minister for Health and Social Affairs Ms. Lena Hallengren digitally called upon Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare to discuss co-operation in the field of health and medicine, here today. The two Health Ministers discussed in detail the status and containment measures for COVID-19 in the two countries, and the future vision for handling it. Ms. Lena Hallengren congratulated Dr. Harsh Vardhan on being elected Chair of WHO Executive Board and praised India for increasing the testing capacity so that more and more people can be diagnosed and treated early. Dr. Harsh Vardhan spoke about the decade of vibrant Indo-Swedish partnership which oversaw ten bilateral meetings at joint working group level. He also mentioned the path-breaking achievements of the Government of India in the recent years: “The Ayushman Bharat Yojana covers a massive 550 million people, maternal and infant mortality have been reduced, India has made giant strides in its target to eliminate TB by the year 2025, while India’s Digital Health Program promises to integrate IT into the healthcare system”. He further said that India has undertaken pioneering research in antibiotic resistance. On the lessons India learned while handling the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said “India has a recovery rate of more than 61% and a mortality of as low as 2.78% in spite of being a country of 1.35 billion. 2.5 lakh people are being tested every day. From a single lab four months back, the country now has more than 1100 labs to diagnose COVID-19.” “India’s pro-active, pre-emptive and graded approach ensured a plateaued graph and significant number of unoccupied beds at any point of time in the three-tiered COVID health infrastructure assembled by the government”, he added. Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that India has rather used the Novel Coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity.“This has happened because of our dynamic and visionary Prime Minister who has led from the front, and the ‘Whole of Government’ approach adopted at various levels. From 8th January, one day after China alerted the world on the novel pathogen, the government has coordinated amongst its different branches for point of entry surveillance at the sea and land ports, and airports. It strengthened its community surveillance, issued detailed health and travel advisories, and also evacuated thousands of citizens and foreign nationals too. India now has over 100 PPE manufacturing units manufacturing 5 lakh PPE per day and has also similarly ramped up its production of N95 masks and ventilators”. India has supplied Hydrochloroxyquine to more than 100 countries, Dr. Harsh Vardhan informed his Swedish counterpart. Both the Ministers agreed to hold next meeting of Joint Working Group by the fall season and digitally connect with each other till the crisis is over. They directed senior officials in their respective ministries to follow up on the matters discussed in the meeting. Dr. Harsh Vardhan ended the meet by wishing good health on Ms. Hallengren and her fellow Swedish citizens.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare launched Intensified Mission Indradhanush 3.0 today. Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare and Shri Mangal Pandey, Health Minister, Bihar were also present during the occasion through video conference.

The Union Minister also launched the IMI 3.0 portal and released the Operational Guidelines for IMI 3.0 and the awareness material/IEC package developed as part of the campaign.

“Let us resolve that no child and a pregnant woman will be left unprotected against Vaccine-Preventable Diseases” 1

Dr. Harsh Vardhan expressed his elation at the elaborate preparations to immunize every mother and child: The Intensified Mission Indradhanush 3.0 will have two rounds starting from February 22 and March 22, 2021 and will be conducted in pre-identified 250 districts/urban areas across 29 States/UTs in the country. Focus of the IMI 3.0 will be the children and pregnant women who have missed their vaccine doses during the COVID-19 pandemic. They will be identified and vaccinated during the two rounds of IMI 3.0. Each round will be for 15 days each.  Beneficiaries from migration areas and hard to reach areas will be targeted as they may have missed their vaccine doses during COVID19.

“Let us resolve that no child and a pregnant woman will be left unprotected against Vaccine-Preventable Diseases” 2

Dr Harsh Vardhan noted that IMI 3.0 will build on the gains of previous phases of the campaign and make lasting gains towards Universal Immunization: “Since its first phase, Mission Indradhanushhas covered 690 districts and vaccinated 37.64 million children and 9.46 million pregnant women.The present eighth campaign will target achieving 90% Full Immunization Coverage (FIC) in all districts of the country and sustain the coverage through immunization system strengthening and foster India’s march towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”Mission Indradhanush was launched in 2014 under the leadership and vision of the Hon. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to all citizens of the country, the Union Health Minister stated. 

As per the Guidelines released for IMI 3.0, the districts have been classified to reflect 313 low risk; 152 as medium risk; and 250 as high risk districts.

Expanding on the role of the campaign in the context on the present COVID crisis, he said, “The country has successfully been able to contain COVID19 and the drive for two indigenous vaccines is being carried out in the country. With this, the importance of a vaccine has never been so strongly felt. Every year the Universal Immunization Programme caters to the vaccination needs of 2.65 crore children and 2.9 crore pregnant women against 12 Vaccine Preventable Diseases. Despite these efforts by all the States and UTs, some children and pregnant women get missed out from this network.Mission Indradhanush is indeed a successful strategy to reach out to every dropped out and left out child and pregnant woman. There has been remarkable improvement in the immunization coverage which is also evident in the NFHS5 data as available for 22 States.”

On the massive push to provide affordable health to the last citizen, the minister observed, “Implementing large campaigns like Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 3.0 even during the roll out of COVID-19 vaccine is a clear indication of India’s health system getting stronger day by day.  Intensified Mission Indradhanush 3.0 (IMI 3.0) aimed to reach the unreached population with all the available vaccines under Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) and thereby accelerate the full immunization and complete immunization coverage of children and pregnant women.” He also detailed the provisions in the Budget that lays high priority on health and wellbeing.

Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey said, “The Mission Indradhanush campaigns have proven to be tailor made for the Indian context, and have given far reaching results during the earlier phases.  Mission Indradhanush& Intensified Mission Indradhanush has enabled the immunization system in reaching hard to reach and high-risk areas including brick kilns, construction sites and nomadic population.  The previous campaigns also helped in improving the micro-planning, generating demand for immunization services and strengthening the supporting systems.”

The Ministers expressed satisfaction that COVID Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) will be ensured during the immunization activities held as part of the IMI 3.0 campaign.  States have been asked to follow “Staggered Approach” to avoid crowding at the session sites and even plan Break-up sessions if staggered approach is not effective to avoid crowding.  The sessions are also planned in such a way that not more than 10 beneficiaries are present at the session site at one given point in time. 

Ms. Vandana Gurnani, Additional Secretary and Mission Director, National Health Mission, Ms. Preeti Pant, Joint Secretary (Reproductive & Child Health)and other senior officials of the Ministry were present at the event.

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