The Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) of the Government of India 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 Intensification of Routine Immunization (RI). To augment its ongoing efforts around immunization, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Under the guidance of this MoU, MoHFW and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) collaboratively established an Immunization Technical Support Unit (ITSU) in collaboration with other partners. This effort focuses on national programs and priorities in delivering real change and making an impact by working closely with the health system, the government and other key stakeholders including civil society organizations. ITSU, with funding support from BMGF, provides techno-managerial support for scaling up UIP, enables system strengthening for quality services and supports the 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 implementation of UIP by improving the access, reach, quality and coverage of the routine immunization program in India (with a focus on key states including Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh) and creating an efficient vaccine delivery system, for both existing and future vaccines.
ITSU has a multidisciplinary 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 (DoHFW) at the 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.