Over 2 million children under the age of 5 die and around 1 million face disability for life every year in India. Read how Indian Academy of Pediatrics, along with Vodafone, has launched the world’s largest vaccination reminder service to tackle this problem, aiming to prevent 500,000 child deaths and disabilities by 2018 through mobile SMS alerts.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” said the famous writer Arthur C. Clarke. Technology, if used appropriately, could solve and simplify many of the largest problems that the world faces today.
The Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP), in collaboration with Vodafone, has decided to put technology to a better use. It has launched the world’s largest mobile service that sends notifications through text messages on mobile phones to remind parents about the immunization schedule of their children.
As per Global Immunization Vision and Strategy (GIVS) 2006-2015, World Health Organization, over 2 million children under the age of 5 die and around 1 million face disability for life every year in India.
According to UNICEF, a majority of child deaths result from acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, measles, malaria and malnutrition. And, these deaths can be prevented to a large extent if timely, regular and appropriate vaccination is given to the child. Due to limited medical facilities, lack of awareness and busy lives, many families tend to forget the important vaccinations which need to be administered at the crucial age of the child, leaving the child vulnerable to life-threatening diseases later in life.
Founded as ImmunizeIndia by Dr. Ranjan Pejaver and Ms. Janani Barath, the service launched by IAP and telecommunication giant Vodafone will aim to ensure that children get proper vaccination. Believed to be the largest vaccination reminder service in the world, it aims to prevent 500,000 child deaths and disabilities by the end of year 2018.
How It Works
The service is provided free of cost to the registered mobile numbers. Parents across the country can register themselves for this service by sending a message to a short code 566778 from any mobile network in the country. The format of the message should be: Immunize <Space> <Baby’s pet name> <space> <Baby’s date of birth>. Example: Immunize Pinky 15-06-2011
Parents will then receive an immediate confirmation followed by reminders about their child’s immunization schedule for a period of 12 years. The service is currently available for residents of India only. After a successful registration three reminders are sent, at two day intervals, for each vaccination that is due as per the IAPCOI prescribed immunization schedule. An example of a reminder is – “Pinky is due for a vaccination this week, please do not forget to visit your doctor.”
Impact And Reach
“Vaccination reminder services in several countries have been effective in increasing compliance by 20%. With over 800 million mobile connections, almost every household in India now has a phone that supports SMS. A text message reminder service is therefore the most cost effective method of reminding parents that a vaccination is due,” says Dr. Vijay N Yewale, President, IAP, further elaborating on the importance of the reminder service.
Just two months after the launch of this service, 20,000 children were already enrolled, exceeding the set target. For a better outreach, IAP is also engaging with community workers like doctors, nurses, schoolteachers, aanganwadi workers, priests, etc. There will be various multilingual communications campaigns as well as posters at clinics, hospitals, schools and other public places to make this program more effective.
“It will be a sad story if India is not able to stop vaccine preventable diseases,” says C.K. Mishra, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Isn’t it amazing how the most complex problems can be solved by just a wise use of technology?