Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and India’s Immunization programme
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private global health partnership focused on increasing access to immunization in poor countries. Established in 2000, Gavi brings together developing countries and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners.
Key functions of Gavi
- Funding vaccines: Gavi mobilizes public and private resources to purchase vaccines for children in the world’s poorest countries. It has helped vaccinate over 822 million children since 2000.
- Increasing access and delivery: Gavi provides funding to strengthen health systems and support comprehensive vaccine roll-out programs in developing countries, including training health workers, improving supply chains and information systems, conducting monitoring and impact assessments
- Shaping vaccine markets: Through its financial commitments, Gavi gives manufacturers incentives to invest in vaccine production to meet developing country demand. This has greatly expanded the production capacity for existing vaccines like pentavalent, pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines.
India and Gavi
India has partnered with Gavi since 2001. Gavi has provided India with vaccines as well as infection prevention and control equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Key focus areas include:
- Introduction of new vaccines: Gavi has supported the introduction of pentavalent vaccine, rotavirus vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and measles-rubella vaccine.
- Cold chain equipment: Gavi has aided in building cold chain capacity to enable proper storage and transport of vaccines across the country.
- Health system strengthening: Gavi provides funding and technical input to train health workers on immunization, improve monitoring systems and data collection, expand outreach through mobile services and assist communication and social mobilization efforts.
India’s Universal Immunization Programme
India initiated the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in 1978 and renamed it Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) in 1985 with the objective of protecting children from vaccine-preventable diseases. Key aspects:
- Vaccines covered: BCG, OPV, DPT, measles and hepatitis B
- Infrastructure: The programme has over 27,000 cold chain points for storage and nationwide transport
- Guidelines and targets: National immunization schedule and guidelines on vaccination process; 90% full immunization coverage target
- Funding and delivery: Funded by the National Health Mission; vaccines delivered through peripheral health centres and community outreach services
- Monitoring: Coverage and disease surveillance through the National Polio Surveillance network and adverse events monitoring
The UIP has played a major role in enabling India to achieve polio-free certification in 2014 and aims to sustain this along with expanding coverage of other vaccines.