The year was 2012 and the Government of India was prioritizing immunization for mothers and children. With the aim of strengthening the UIP that had been launched in the year 1985, there was growing recognition of achieving full immunization status. Simply put, this meant bridging all possible gaps at the state/district/provincial level and ensuring at least 90% of all cases that were being missed getting identified and brought under the ambit of a large and expanded range of vaccines.
As State-and district-specific delivery of vaccines was stepped up by the Government of India and the MoHFW and 2012 declared the “Year of Intensification of Routine Immunization (RI)”, there was increasing conviction around the need to have a ‘whole-of-county’ and a ‘whole-of-society’ approach that included not just the long arm of the government but also the grassroots presence of civil society and the reach and penetration of the private sector. The role of international partners, donor agencies and specially constituted bodies became imminent and the crescendo for full immunization more pronounced.
New partnerships and alliances were formed for the first time in India’s immunization history. The partnership between MoHFW, Government of India and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) was a significant development. Soon, it was decided to set up a special Immunization Technical Support Unit, established collaboratively through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between MoHFW and Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), a PPP initiative that was set up in the year 2006. Other national and international partners and agencies too were brought on board to steer the vaccination agenda.