(Photo: Munish Byala/HT)
(Photo: Munish Byala/HT)

Government to use mobile technology for ensuring full immunisation coverage

  • As the main challenges identified in achieving 100% immunization coverage are related to collecting, analysing and utilising data
  • During a meeting convened, the government selected nine grantees and each one has been awarded up to $ 200,000

In a bid to ensure full immunization coverage, the ministry of health and family welfare is toying with the idea of using mobile technology for data collection and analysis.

As the main challenges identified in achieving 100% immunization coverage are related to collecting, analysing and utilising data, the union health ministry in collaboration with Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) under Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has granted aids under its Immunization Data-- Innovating for Action (IDIA) initiative. The initiative will support innovative solutions for streamlining data systems for immunization.

During a meeting convened on Wednesday, the government selected nine grantees and each one has been awarded up to $ 200,000. Under phase-I, the grantees will test their innovative approaches for a period of 12-18 months. The most successful projects will then be scaled up, with the ultimate objective of being integrated into the government’s immunization programme.

The innovations include developing mobile-based applications to monitor and ensure vaccination of all new-born children, improving data accuracy by enabling community health workers for real-time data entry. The innovations will also be aimed at enhancing data quality by integrating immunization data with existing platforms, such as the Mother and Child Tracking System.

All the grantees including ICMR have come up with their innovative solutions. The ICMR will develop, pilot and assess the feasibility of an integrated mobile-based application tool to improve knowledge on India’s Universal Immunization Programme, uptake of routine immunization services, and data access targeting beneficiaries, care givers and health care providers.

“The data challenge under the Grand Challenges India is very critical for developing tools to support India’s immunization system. The idea is to get new innovations to supplement the existing tools available under the government programme to maximize immunization coverage in India. we are looking for out of the box innovations to help these systems to be empowered, and get integrated into the national system, to improve immunization coverage in India across all vaccination schedules so that the last child in this country gets immunized," said Shirshendu Mukherjee, Mission Director, Grand Challenges India, BIRAC.

Some of the most interesting innovations put forth were from the INCLEN Trust International that will help improve the immunization data quality by linking immunization data with beneficiaries’ Aadhar and mobile number, developing data monitoring tools for tracking, and generating timely and appropriate data inputs for Health Management Information System. Similarly, NEERMAN’s pilot will translate the Mother and Child Tracking System and Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) data into a common format and store it onto a secure, decentralized and block chain database for recording and analyzing data from disparate sources.

The Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management Kerala will build a data and block chain technology powered mobile/web solution (Immunochain) to improve vaccines traceability – from manufacturing facility, through the distribution mechanisms in cold storage network and the vaccine handling facilities, till the end consumer.

Avalon Information Systems Private Limited will use block chain technology to create a robust, scalable, real-time tracking system for immunization data in India. This solution will integrate the immunization data of the existing Mother and Child Tracking System with IndiaStack to offer public health solutions around immunization based on Aadhar data. Also, OnionDev Technologies Private Limited will develop an application for optical scanning of the Mother and Child Protection card for use by frontline workers equipped with a mobile smart phone. This will help improve data accuracy and timeliness by ensuring real-time data entry. Operation ASHA will develop an eVaccination app to increase vaccination adherence by verifying finger scans of Community Health Workers and new mothers who will be accompanied to public hospitals for vaccination of their newborn children.