Saturday, August 06, 2011

India Uses Mobile Phones To Improve Vaccine Rates

On Tuesday, India's health minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, announced a new initiative that should help boost the country's immunization of newborns. The initiative will collect mobile phone numbers of all pregnant mothers to monitor their babies vaccines.

The health minister also announced to the WHO in New Deli that the ministry has already been supervising 29 million mobile numbers of pregnant women in India since January.

Babies in India are supposed to be immunized against tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and measles, according to health experts. However, India ranks low globally in its rate of vaccinating the population. In 2010, on 72% of Indian babies received vaccinations. Compared to Bangladesh (95%) and Indonesia (83%) this is extremely poor.

Experts say that India compares so poorly with other countries globally due to its decentralized public health infrastructure and inadequate monitoring of patients, the latter of which is being remedied now!

Through their mobile phones, women are able to be tracked in the future by central or state governments to ensure that their babies are receiving all the immunizations needed. By phoning the mothers, the central government will be able to check on whether the babies are being fully immunized as well as check by district, which babies are not getting the needed vaccines.

-Gabrielle Gurian