The Universal Immunization Programme of the Government of India (UIP) aims to achieve full immunization of all target-age children and mothers in India, through state-and district-specific delivery of vaccines. India declared 2012 as the year of strengthening routine immunization (RI). To augment its ongoing efforts around immunization, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) establish an Immunization Technical Support Unit (ITSU) in collaboration with other partners. This effort emphasises addressing national programs and priorities in delivering real change and impact by working closely with the health system, government and key stakeholders including civil society organisations. The ITSU, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provides techno-managerial support for scaling up the UIP, enabling system strengthening for providing quality services and supporting implementation of MoHFW's Multi-Year Strategic Plan for Immunization.
The core purpose of ITSU is to:
- Enhance institutional capacity for designing effective strategies for implementing UIP by improving the access, reach, quality and coverage of the routine immunization (RI) program in India (with a focus on key states Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh)
- Create an efficient vaccine delivery system, for both existing and future vaccines, that meets the needs of communities.
ITSU provides support for improving immunization coverage by appraising performance across all states, reviewing the existing central and state governmental processes, and formulating innovative, evidence based practices and strategies. This includes:
- Augmenting and strengthening capacity of the health workforce to deliver routine immunization through organizing learning events and developing capacity building programmes.
- Supporting evidence-based decision making by developing approaches, tools such as HERMES (Highly Extensible Resource for Modeling Event-driven Simulations) and data analytics including computer simulation model.
- Strengthening systems and structures for improved surveillance and reporting of Adverse Effects Following Immunization (AEFI).
- Developing business models for improved vaccine logistics and delivery.
- Strengthening the Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS).
- Generating enabling communication for improved awareness and demand for quality services.
- Identifying affordable information and communications technology tools for better social mobilization, supply chain management, and operations.
The work of ITSU is organized into strategic sub-units that focus on key themes within the UIP.
- Evidence to Policy Unit aims to link immunization policy, programme implementation, and on-the-ground health outcomes through research studies for tracking changes in population susceptibility and force of infection. It synthesises data for informing evidence-based immunization policy decisions regarding new vaccine performance.
- Strategic Planning and System Design Unit draws upon relevant experiences from other countries in supporting the efforts on the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI).
- Strategic Communication Unit supports UIP through development of comprehensive Behavior Change Communication (BCC) strategy for better uptake of services. It shapes demand by facilitating advocacy and encouraging supportive community action through social mobilization approaches.
- Vaccine Logistics and Cold Chain Management Unit works towardsimproving vaccine supply chain and management of logistics.
- Management of Adverse Events Following Immunization and Vaccine Safety and Quality Unit provides technical support to national AEFI Management Committee to improving vaccine safety and AEFI surveillance in the country.
- Program Operations, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit works on addressing data quality issues by strengthening methods and use of existing data sources like the MCTS and HMIS and through analysis of evidence from the field.
ITSU has a multi-disciplinary technical team of thematic experts and advisors with expertise in program design and management, policy research, advocacy and communications. The team supports MoHFW and the Department of Health and Family Welfare (at state level) by suggesting potential pathways for achieving comprehensive coverage of immunization services, with special focus on difficult and hard-to-reach places and populations. The unit draws experiences and lessons from other initiatives, from across the country, to develop context-specific strategies. It performs a catalytic role in strengthening health workforce issues by identifying and addressing their capacity building needs through customized, need-based training efforts.
Immunization Technical Support Unit (ITSU)
14, Community Centre, Panchsheel Park
New Delhi- 110017, India