Universal Immunization Programme: Civil Services Mentor Magazine - October + November - 2014


Indian public health has seen a massive improvement since independence. At the time of independence Life expectancy was only 32 years and we had a very high child and infant mortality rate. Various programs and initiatives from the government and non-government organizations have led to this development. Universal immunization program is one such program which has helped in reduction of spread of disease covered under it. India started with the expanded Program of Immunization (EPI) in 1978 to reduce child mortality. Under this program six vaccines were covered (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), TT, DPT, DT, polio, and typhoid). Subsequently, in 1985 the Indian government included Measles vaccination and launched the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) and a mission to achieve immunization coverage of all infants and pregnant women by 1990’s. It is one of the largest immunization program in the world in terms of quantities of vaccine used, the number of beneficiaries, the geographical spread. It was launched in 1985 in a phased manner. Under this program government gives vaccine to children for seven diseases. Diseases covered under this program are;

1. Polio;
2. Hepatitis B;
3. Childhood TB;
4. Tetanus;
5. Measles;
6. Diphtheria;
7. Pertussis;

It was also announced in 2014 that four vaccines will be added to the program namely rotavirus, rubella and Japanese encephalitis, as well as the injectable polio vaccine.

Poliomyelitis (polio) is one of the disease covered under universal immunization program. It is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route.

It multiplies in the intestine, from where it invade the nervous system and causes paralysis. Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented by immunization. In 2010 government started a drive against polio and in 2012 programme achieved big success when India was removed from active polio list of WHO. Similar to polio, Japanese encephalitis(JE) is also a viral disease. It is transmitted by mosquitoes in humans causing inflammation of the membranes around the brain. Japanese encephalitis is a leading cause of viral encephalitis in Asia generally spread from western pacific region in east to Pakistan in west and from Korea in north to Papua New Guinea in south.

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