India improves child immunization efforts with Special Immunization Week

The Indian government launched its Special Immunization Week on April 24 to intensify routine immunization efforts and decrease child and maternal mortality in the country.

Special Immunization Week will hold immunization sessions in high-risk areas for one week each in the months of April, June, July and August. The first of four sessions began on April 24 alongside a new communication campaign.

The campaign, designed to help promote the message of widespread immunizations in India, features a TV spot, new RI loco, posters and a radio spot. The media event was organized by the United Nations Children's Fund.

"The Special Immunization Week is an opportunity to reinforce India's Call to Action for child survival and development," Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Additoinal Secretary Anuradha Gupta said. "The new RI logo and other communication material will promote consistent messaging to raise awareness on the urgency of reaching every child with life-saving immunization."

The Indian government reported 75,000 children each year do not receive immunizations and are at-risk of contracting, and potentially dying from, preventable diseases. The majority of this population is marginalized.

"In India, inequity persists within and between states," UNICEF India Representative Louis-Georges Arsenault said. "There are geographical, rural-urban, poor-rich, gender and other related differences in vaccination coverage. Disparities need to be addressed to reach every last child. The Special Immunization Week is an opportunity for all of us to renew focus on ensuring equity in immunization coverage."

In 2012, India joined 170 countries in the UNICEF and U.S.-led initiative to promote child survival Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed. The Indian government labeled the fiscal 2012-13 year the "Year of Intensification of Routine Immunization." In response to these commitments, this past February the Indian government launched a Call to Action on Child Survival and Development in Tamil Nadu.

These initiatives are part of India's journey to achieve its Millennium Development Goals related to maternal and child mortality.