If all children in India were fully immunised, hundreds of thousands more would survive every year and millions would thrive more. To give India’s children a better chance at a full life, PATH (the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health), set up the Saving Children’s Lives Through Immunisation (SCLTI) programme in Madhya Pradesh, one of the states with the lowest level of immunisation coverage. SCLTIs core objective was improving the quality and accessibility of immunisation services using measurable indicators, over a three year period.
PATH worked in full cooperation with the Government of India (GoI), state health departments, state agencies, community leaders, healthcare professionals and health workers. It was supported by the Susan and Michael Dell Foundation,
The SCLTI project had ambitious goals: it aimed to double immunisation coverage in three years. Doing so required a thorough analysis of how immunisation achievements were measured and reported: qualitative and quantitative research by Baird’s CMC suggested that some of the failure lay in awareness of which vaccines a child had received and in muddled reporting systems. The interventions we planned and helped implemented required extensive training of PATH staff and partner organisations and collaborative outreach efforts. .
This was a pilot so it was important that PATH staff across the rest of India understood the learnings and were able to present them to colleagues and to policymakers in other state governments. Baird’s CMC helped prepare materials and briefings
There was substantial interest in the outcomes from stakeholders throughout the country, including the GoI and the national media, social media and local media. However, media reporting of the progress of the immunisation programme was often ill informed and inaccurate. Our next task was to restore accuracy in reporting, by direct engagement with the media, providing relevant facts, arranging interview access with independent experts and overcoming false reporting on risks.
Our next task was to develop a fully integrated communications programme that would make it possible for the key healthcare workers responsible for implementing the programme to be accessible to the media and willing to engage with them and other stakeholders positively and with confidence. As part of this work we developed a sustainable system for early warning of any crisis and subsequent crisis management if it was needed. The system was designed to allow close co-operation with government and civil society partners.
Baird’s CMC supported the SCLTI through
- developing and implementing a training programme for PATH and its partners in crisis management and media advocacy
- with PATH and GoI, developing a sustainable system for early warning of crises and for the management of any crisis, in co-operation with government and civil society partners
- developing a parallel communications system to keep international funding partners and headquarters informed and involved as needed
- introducing processes for identifying gaps and vulnerabilities in the crisis management programme and for suggesting remedial action
- developing a training programme to support the introduction of a Project Management System (Celoxis) that would ensure cohesion between all partners throughout all areas and regions within which the immunisation programme was operating