Winning COVID management strategies: Expanding vaccine coverage & making Indian vaccines available to partner nations

Stakeholders and partners, including UNICEF INDIA, WHO, UNDP, USAID, ADB, and BMGF recognize India for its grassroots strategy towards mass vaccination

By V Mazumder,

COVID-19 management in India displayed an exemplary model with the Centre and states working together in harmony. The Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, recently highlighted India’s success story of COVID management, which has been hailed across the world. In his keynote address at Aksha-Lessons from India, an event that was recently organised in the capital, to discuss India’s best management and vaccination practices for COVID-19, the Health Minister commended India’s COVID management for its innovation, dedication, partnership, and technology-driven approach.

Senior representatives of development partners such as the WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, USAID, ADB, and BMGF attended the event. Several studies had made ill-informed assumptions and predictions about pandemic effects in India. However, decisive and strategic actions taken at crucial moments, combining global best practices and its own ‘Whole of Government’ and ‘Whole of Society’ approach to contain the spread of the deadly virus had been critical to manage the pandemic. At the same time, the Health Minister highlighted the community-led efforts of numerous stakeholders, such as NGOs, CSOs, industry, development partners and media who joined forces with the GOI to fight the pandemic. 

Public Movements (Jan Andolan) and People’s Partnership (Jan Bhagidari) played a key role in India’s successful COVID-19 management approach, said Dr Mandaviya. Working with the Department of Health and Family Welfare, the Ministry of Health & Medical Education, and other stakeholders, the Government of India (GOI) has been proactively pursuing effective COVID-19 management across the country by upgrading health infrastructure and strengthening public health measures. Additionally, the country’s agile response in managing a deadly second wave of the virus early in 2021 has been noteworthy, despite the virus’ impact on the economy. Innovative communication methods to ensure that everyday citizens follow Covid Appropriate Behaviours including masks, social distancing and handwashing have played a key role.

A Robust Vaccination Drive Contributed to the Victory 

A huge vaccination drive was successfully mounted in India despite the country’s diverse geography and population. Lauding the Government of India for successfully managing the large COVID-19 vaccination drive across the country, Mr Yasumasa Kimura, Deputy UNICEF India Representative said, “This is the first time in our history vaccines were developed on a war–footing to reach billions. India’s vaccination model has been very important in defining the global trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

India’s vaccination success is a testament to the dynamism and commitment demonstrated by the country’s leaders in dealing with the pandemic. To combat wave after wave of the pandemic, India quickly ramped up vaccination efforts across the country to protect as many people as possible. In addition, the government took targeted measures to deal with challenges such as vaccine rollouts across the country, vaccine production, and fight vaccine hesitancy as well as misinformation.

COVID-19 vaccine has already been administered to over 1.8 billion people so far and this has greatly contributed to the successful management of the third surge. Additionally, the first dose of the vaccine has already been administered to 96% of Indians aged 15 and older. An integrated government approach, the use of robust communication strategies, and the tireless efforts of an army of grassroot level health workers had contributed to India’s success in vaccinating its people. 

Ms Anjali Kaur, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia, USAID underlined that India’s mammoth vaccination exercise served as a model for other countries.

India has made waves in the world in terms of vaccine production and delivery. In addition to protecting its own population, India has also helped the global community by providing COVID-19 vaccines, PPE kits and medical equipment to several countries. According to the Union Minister, “India’s success story in managing the pandemic can serve as a lesson for other countries, just as we are always looking to learn from global best practices.”

Dr Chris Elias, President BMGF, appreciated India’s remarkable achievements and mammoth efforts towards managing the COVID-19 pandemic. He said, “The innovation is in regulatory decisions, balancing speed with safety with respect to vaccines which India has taken promptly and proactively. The development of COWIN is a public good which can be used elsewhere also to increase the pace of delivery of vaccines.”

With international flights being opened up now, the ‘Jan Andolan’ or community participation for Covid Appropriate Behaviours and taking all the doses of COVID-19 vaccination assumes even more significance, so that the gains achieved through successful management of the pandemic remains.

(The author is Independent Management Professional. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited).

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