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Global Immunisation Efforts Save 154 Million Lives


A recent study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that global immunisation efforts have saved an estimated 154 million lives over the past 50 years. The report was released on the occasion of World Immunization Week, ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) scheduled for May 2024.


GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Findings of the Report on Immunization Impact
  2. Status of Immunization in India
  3. Universal Immunization Programme

Key Findings of the Report on Immunization Impact

Significance of Immunization

  • Immunization stands out as the single most impactful health intervention for ensuring the health of infants.

Measles Vaccine Contribution

  • An estimated 94 million out of 154 million lives saved since 1974 were attributed to protection provided by measles vaccines.

Measles Vaccine Coverage Gap

  • Despite progress, 33 million children missed a measles vaccine dose in 2022, indicating a coverage gap.

Global Measles Vaccine Coverage Rates

  • Current global coverage rates for the first and second doses of measles vaccine stand at 83% and 74%, respectively, contributing to numerous outbreaks worldwide.

Threshold for Outbreak Prevention

  • A minimum coverage rate of 95% with two doses of measles-containing vaccine is necessary to shield communities from outbreaks.

Continued Impact of Vaccination

  • Immunization accounts for 60% of lives saved and is projected to remain the foremost contributor to preventing deaths in the future.

Evolution of Immunization Programs

  • Before the initiation of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), only a fraction of infants globally had access to routine immunization. Presently, 84% of infants receive protection with three doses of the DTP vaccine.

Reduction in Infant Mortality

  • Immunization has led to a 40% reduction in infant mortality from 14 diseases, including diphtheria, pertussis, and measles, among others.

Progress in Africa

  • The African Region has witnessed over a 50% reduction in disease burden over the past five decades.

Polio Eradication Efforts

  • Wild poliovirus cases have plummeted by over 99% since 1988, with types 2 and 3 eradicated in 1999 and 2020, respectively. India was declared polio-free in 2014.

Success of Other Vaccines

  • Vaccines against malaria and cervical cancer have demonstrated notable efficacy in disease containment.

Health Impact of Immunization

  • On average, each life saved through immunization translates to gaining 66 years of full health, totaling 10.2 billion full health years gained over five decades.

Status of Immunization in India


  • India’s Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) ranks among the world’s most extensive public health initiatives.
  • Annually, more than 30 million pregnant women and 27 million children receive vaccinations under the UIP.


  • India achieved polio-free certification in 2014 and eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus in 2015.
  • Introduction and nationwide expansion of new vaccines like Measles-Rubella, Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV), and Rotavirus Vaccine (RVV).

Current Situation:

  • Despite efforts, only 65% of children in India receive full immunization during their first year of life.
  • The number of zero-dose (ZD) children reduced to 1.1 million in 2022 from 2.7 million in 2021, covering an additional 1.6 million children with life-saving vaccination.
  • 63% of ZD children are concentrated in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.


  • Mission Indradhanush (MI) launched in 2014 aims to vaccinate all unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children under UIP.
  • Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) aims to reduce the number of zero-dose children.


  • Globally, 14.3 million infants did not receive the first DPT vaccine in 2022, highlighting inadequate access to immunization and health services.
  • Nearly 60% of not vaccinated or partially vaccinated children live in 10 countries, including India.
  • Substantial child mortality and morbidity persist, with almost one million children dying before their fifth birthday, many of which are preventable through interventions like breastfeeding, immunization, and access to treatment.


  • Despite progress, full immunization coverage in India remains at 76.1%, leaving one in four children without essential vaccines.

Universal Immunization Programme

The Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) is a comprehensive public health initiative aimed at providing immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases. Here’s an overview:


  • The initiative was initially launched as the Expanded Programme on Immunization in 1978. It was later renamed the Universal Immunization Programme in 1985 to reflect its expanded reach beyond urban areas.

Integration with National Health Initiatives:

  • Since the inception of the National Rural Health Mission in 2005, the UIP has been an integral component of it, emphasizing its importance within the broader framework of national health programs.


  • Under the UIP, immunization services are offered free of cost to target populations, encompassing both rural and urban areas.

Vaccine Coverage:

  • The UIP provides immunization against 12 vaccine-preventable diseases, aiming to protect individuals from various health threats.
  • Nationally, vaccines are administered for nine diseases, including Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Rubella, severe forms of Childhood Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B, and Meningitis & Pneumonia caused by Haemophilus influenzae type B.
  • Additionally, sub-nationally, vaccines are provided for three diseases: Rotavirus diarrhoea, Pneumococcal Pneumonia, and Japanese Encephalitis.


  • The primary goal of the UIP is to ensure widespread coverage of immunization services, thereby reducing the incidence and prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases across the population.
  • By providing free access to vaccines and implementing comprehensive immunization strategies, the UIP aims to safeguard public health and promote overall well-being.


  • The UIP operates through a network of healthcare facilities, including primary health centers, sub-centers, and outreach vaccination sessions, to ensure accessibility and outreach to all segments of society.
  • Regular immunization drives, awareness campaigns, and surveillance systems are integral components of the UIP’s operational framework, aimed at maximizing vaccine coverage and minimizing disease transmission.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024