India to introduce four new vaccines

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Government of India’s decision to add new vaccines to Universal Immunization Programme will save estimated 100,000 lives

Four new vaccines to be added to India's routine immunisation programmes

Four new vaccines to be added to India's routine immunisation programmes.
Credit: GAVI/2014/Oscar Seykens.

Geneva, 4 July 2014 - In an important decision for global immunisation, the Government of India has announced plans to introduce four new life-saving vaccines that could prevent an additional 100,000 infant deaths each year. The GAVI Alliance welcomed the decision and called upon the Government of India to take this as an opportunity to also increase immunisation coverage.

According to the announcement, made by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, vaccines protecting against rotavirus, rubella and inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) will be made available to all children through India’s Universal Immunization Programme (UIP), while Japanese encephalitis vaccines will be introduced in 179 endemic districts across nine states.

With a birth cohort of 27 million children, India is currently home to the largest number of unimmunised children in the world, 6.8 million or roughly a third of the world’s total. According to the Government of India, a donor and important partner to the GAVI Alliance since earlier this year, making these vaccines available to infants for free will prevent 100,000 deaths.

“This is a positive development that will make a real impact and save countless lives,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance. “It is this kind of decisive approach that recently saw India achieve what many once thought impossible, to wipe out polio. Building on this success, and together with current plans to scale-up the 5-in-1 pentavalent vaccine nationally with catalytic GAVI support, this move by the new Government of India will offer a legacy of hope for millions of unimmunised children for a chance of a healthy life, free from disease”.

Diarrhoea alone is responsible for the deaths of nearly 80,000 children each year, and one million hospitalisations. The introduction of new rotavirus vaccine, developed and produced in India with support from PATH and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will provide infants with protection from this killer and help India reduce child mortality.

The decision to introduce these vaccines comes at the recommendation of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India, the country’s scientific advisory body on immunisation.

The GAVI Alliance has been providing support for India since 2002, starting with hepatitis B and injection safety material and then with the introduction of pentavalent vaccines in 2011 and health system strengthening in 2014. Support for national scale-up of pentavalent vaccine, will continue through 2015 at which point the Government of India will take over financing.

The GAVI Alliance is a public-private partnership committed to saving children’s lives and protecting people’s health by increasing access to immunisation in poor countries. The Alliance brings together developing country 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.

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