World immunisation week: mobile app to remind parents of vaccine schedule

WHO focus on delivering health information directly to people’s mobile phones and social media accounts to curb vaccine preventable deaths

By Jyotsna Singh
Published: Thursday 24 April 2014

imageIf you are parent of a young child and feel at a loss when it comes to vaccination, then a simple mobile app may be the answer to your worries. The ACVIP app, launched by the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) last month, is a reminder service for mobile and Internet users in India. It also gives detailed information about vaccines available in India and their schedule. The app is available for android and iOS users. India being an “android country”, where Google's mobile operating system has 91 per cent market share, the free app can benefit a large chunk of population. Share of iOS is 2.3 per cent, according data put out by International Data corporation.

Application of technology and software to increase coverage of immunisation is a new trend. During this year's World Immunisation Week—April 24-30—the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged people to keep themselves up to date about availability of vaccines and other related information. "In line with the recommendations of the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), WHO is making advances in using new mobile and Internet technologies for its campaign, to deliver health information directly to people’s mobile phones and social media accounts," reads a press release by the international body. GVAP-2011-20—endorsed by the 194 member states of the World Health Assembly in May 2012ÔÇòis a framework to prevent millions of deaths by 2020 through more equitable access to existing vaccines for people in all communities.

More on India's immunisation programme

India among worst performers

India is among the worst performing countries as far as vaccination coverage goes. WHO's analysis of 2012 data shows that more than half the children worldwide who do not receive routine immunisation services, live in three countries—India, Indonesia and Nigeria.

"State of the World's Vaccines and Immunisation”, a 2009 report put together by WHO and UNICEF, showed that awareness among parents and paediatricians is a major hurdle in universal immunisation. Initiatives using new technology will help in overcoming them," said Vipin M Vashishtha, national convener, IAP advisory committee on vaccines and immunisation practices.

The app can be downloaded by searching for ACVIP or IAP Immunisation 2013 on Google Play. After installing it on mobile, its dashboard gives many options like recommended vaccines and immunisation table. If a user clicks on “vaccine reminder”, it asks the user to give details of date of birth of the child, name, mobile and email id. An SMS and email are sent on the day of scheduled vaccination for a particular vaccine.

Language barrier

The app has a limitation—language.

"We have launched it in English only. We are talking to service providers to give option of language change. But that will happen at a later stage," said Vashishtha.

The initial cost of launching the app was Rs 3 lakh. "The capital came from IAP's fund. If we need more funds, IAP's central fund will remain our main source," said Vashishtha.

Some other initiatives are also being tried in the country. NGO Immunise India has a Facebook page for paediatricians. They can ask questions if they need to know something about immunisation and keep themselves updated with information about latest vaccines and debates surrounding them.

"Coverage for routine immunisation is 61 per cent in India. If we want to take it to better levels, then use of such technology is the most cost-effective intervention. Parents as well as doctors can benefit with such simple tools," said Panna Choudhury, paediatrician, formerly with Delhi government's Lok Nayak hospital.

Report: Polio eradication and endgame strategic plan 2013-2018

Report: From 200,000 to zero: the journey to a polio-free India

Feature: Fatigue and fear with shifting polio eradication strategies in India: A study of social resistance to vaccination

Policy: National Vaccine Policy 2011

Report: The state of the world's vaccines and immunization 2009

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.