The eVIN programme, an innovative electronic vaccine intelligence network, rolled out by the Union ministry of health in a dozen states and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is proving to be a shot in the arm for state governments striving to achieve their immunisation goals. The hi-tech initiative added a new feather in its cap on March 25 when Chhattisgarh became the first and only state in India to achieve 18 consecutive ‘no stock-out’ days.
The smart phone-based vaccine logistics system, by providing real-time information on stock and flow and storage temperatures across all cold chain points in these states, is becoming a game changer in the nation’s ambitious Universal Immunisation Programme which aims at increasing coverage to 90 per cent by the end of this year. The project hinges on module-based technology that also makes sure that the supply is safe and reliable. It was rolled out in around 400 districts of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
“The health department officials and our team in Chhattisgarh deserve huge credit for this accomplishment. Many of the health workers in the state were not even familiar with the functioning of a smart phone when we started to train them. But they learned quickly and implemented the system successfully. This is the result of a collective effort,”.
All cold chain handlers are given smart phones with the eVIN application which allows for the digitisation of vaccine inventories. As a routine task, they enter the net utilisation for each vaccine in the standardised registers at the end of every immunisation day. This is simultaneously updated in the eVIN application and uploaded on a cloud server which can then be viewed by programme managers at district, state and national level through online dashboards.
The system addresses widespread inequities in vaccine coverage by supporting state governments in overcoming constraints of infrastructure, monitoring and human resources.
“Before the system was in place, overstocking and stock-outs of vaccines happened frequently at storage centres across the country. The eVIN programme helps facilitate evidence-based decision-making by making available online real-time data through the application software and temperature loggers. It has a colour-coded system which helps health workers keep track of vaccine availability. It ensures that every child gets timely and reliable doses,” Dr Pant, who leads the programme at UNDP, pointed out.
The project has been showing impressive results in all the states included in the first phase. Gujarat recently became the first state to report zero stock-out of any vaccines across all its 1,998 vaccine stores. With the success of the programme at selected states, the government is planning to expand the initiative to the entire country.
According to government data, more than 26 million children are born in India every year, but nearly 25 per cent of them are not vaccinated because their caregivers did not feel the need for it. And for nearly 15 per cent, the caregivers did not have time to go to vaccination centres.