They are young, energetic and committed to the cause of a better and safer future. Driven by sheer purpose, a band of nearly 250 young-hearts are braving all odds to reach out to families living in far off and remote villages of Tripura. While Covid19 has thrown a thick black blanket of uncertainties, these youngsters are silently working to ensure Routine Immunization (RI) sessions remain unaffected. Their relentless efforts are duly supported by technological solutions -eVIN- for maintaining supply chain of vaccines to every corner of the state.
“Often, in making Routine Immunization (RI) inclusive some of these energetic youths walk miles on foot under the searing sun to reach their destinations while others swim across rivers/rivulets ensuring their presence with vaccine packs in villages at the right time”, says Immunization Officer, State Health Department, Dr Madhusudhan Chowdhury adding that Tripura has already achieved 93 per cent immunization in 2019-20.
“In the wake of Covid19, the Health Department prepared a contingency plan for covering up and improving the immunization rate during the current year”, Dr Choudhury informed. “Our target is to reach the maximum number of targeted populations. Though 93 percent immunization is a great achievement, we are stressing on improving the rate further. For this we need community involvement. If local people participate in ensuring total immunization in every hamlet, Tripura will set an excellent example. In fact, the incumbent Government is also working in this direction,” adds the doctor. He also informed that the introduction of ‘eVIN’ – Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network – in 2019 brought in a major change and ensured proper functioning of the supply chain so that no beneficiary suffered due to lack of supply of vaccines or due to damaged vaccines.
Senior Project Officer, Dr Supratim Biswas is all praise for ‘eVIN’ and admits that the innovative technological solution has bolstered morale of health workers.
Elaborating on eVIN, Dr Biswas says, “eVIN is a breakthrough initiative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Govt. of Tripura is implementing the same through NHM right from May 2019. Now, the Routine Immunization programme of Tripura is being monitored and run solely through eVIN. Around 300 ANM have been trained and 153 health facilities, mobile phones and SIM with internet have been provided by UNDP and NHM Tripura”.
According to Dr Biswas, cold chains fitted with necessary technology under eVIN have been set up and connected with an app which shows real time data about vaccine stock and temperature in which vaccines have been stored at the PHCs.
“As soon as stock falls below stipulated level and/or temperature breaches 2 deg to 8 deg Celsius mark, it is displayed in the app’s dashboard and our staff takes actions accordingly. Around 200 Temperature Loggers are installed in 153 Cold Chain Points which track temperature of storage of vaccines 24 x 7,” he notified.
The man behind the implementation and smooth functioning of eVIN across the state is Rajat Bhattacharjee, an engineer who looks after the technical side of vaccination.
Dr Supratim Biswas ensures that eVIN is helping the concerned people to know the real time situation. “If temperate, for some reasons, soar above 8 deg Celsius, efficacy of vaccines is affected. Before eVIn came into play, we, while sitting in different districts, were unable to know about the quality and condition of the vaccines, and had to rely on spot decisions of the people who were handing them to us. However, now, the situation has changed considerably as we know details about the stock and the temperature. The technology has been built and maintained in such a way by Dr Rajat Bhattacharjee that eVIN app starts buzzing, sending warning SMSs in case of temperature breach and shortage in stock,” he enthused.
Moumita Gope and Badal Goswami – cold chain managers of West and North districts of Tripura – who have their real life experiences in keeping the RI sessions going at this critical hour of the pandemic – agree that eVIN had ensured efficacy of vaccines and the state government is taking all measures to provide effective and timely immunization to every beneficiary of the state.