New Delhi — A group of 40 journalists from radio and print media, based in different districts, came together for a national media consultation on Routine Immunization (RI) and new vaccines in Delhi. The aim of the workshop was to brainstorm on ways to reach the last mile by leveraging the role of radio and its reach to the remotest parts of the country.
In 2014, the Government of India had launched Mission Indradhanush, a flagship programme to strengthen immunisation coverage in India. The programme aims to provide 100% vaccination against life-threatening diseases to more than 90% of new-born babies by 2020. One of the challenges for complete immunisation arises at the point of last-mile connectivity and this is where the role of radio becomes crucial. More than 10 States participated in the workshop to discuss and suggest ways to overcome the barriers on uptake of RI.
Dr MK Aggarwal, Deputy Commissioner, Universal Immunization Programme, said, “Radio journalists can convey critical messages on health through the creative route of news, music and entertainment. We look forward to the support of radio present in Mission Indradhanush high focus districts to help raise awareness on the need for full immunization.”
Dr Satish Gupta, Health Specialist – UNICEF, spoke about the rotavirus vaccine, which will be introduced in early 2016. Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of death among children under 5 years of age.
The group suggested innovative measures like engaging the masses during annual carnivals, regional caller tunes and using social media platforms that can bring about a higher impact of the RI coverage. The session concluded with participants committing themselves to the cause.
The workshop was a follow-up to the “Radio4Child” initiative undertaken by UNICEF earlier this year, to recognise radio journalists for their creative messages on routine immunisation.
The Government of India recognises immunisation as one of the most cost-effective interventions to prevent child death. India’s universal programme is one of the largest public health interventions in the country with an extensive vaccine delivery system with 27,000 vaccine storage units in 35 States across the country. 80% of vaccination takes place in the outreach sessions, held in thousands each year in more than 6,00,000 villages and other urban belts.