New Delhi: Health minister J.P. Nadda launched a mass media campaign for a nationwide immunization drive—Mission Indradhanush—on Monday, aiming to immunize 90% of India’s infants by 2020.

“As per data, 89 lakh people are partially covered, out of which 19 lakh are completely uncovered. Our vision for Swachch Bharat cannot be without healthy children," said the minister.

The week-long drive will start on World Health Day on 7 April and will be repeated on the 7th day of each of the following four months. It will cover all children under two years of age and pregnant women.

Only 65% children, out of 2.7 crore, in India receive all necessary vaccine during their first year and this coverage grows by a mere one percent every year. The government wants to increase the percentage of immunization to 4-5% with this mission.

The drive seeks to bridge this gap by providing immunization against seven diseases—diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis B.

The first phase will focus on 201 high priority districts from four states—Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh—that have the highest number of partially vaccinated or unvaccinated children.

“Take a country like Cuba where the health index is better than that of USA only because of immunization. Parents must be convinced, ladies must be given pamphlets and paediatricians and gynaecologists should also spread awareness," said Jagdish Prasad, director general of health services.

Of those children who have remained unvaccinated, 40% are because of lack of information, 32% because of apprehension among their parents arising from a lack of awareness and 28% because their parents do not see the need for it.

Louis Georges Arsenault, Unicef representative to India, said, “We want to use a blend of traditional and digital media for a mass media campaign. This mission needs ground level and block level mobilisation for it to become successful."

The media campaign for Mission Indradhanush includes a song composed by Bollywood lyricist and scriptwriter Javed Akhtar.

“Young population is our dividend only when it is healthy," said Nadda.