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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Researchers Find Public Vaccination Programs in India Face Obstacles

Increased public vaccination programs to help protect children in rural India from Hib and a spectrum of other diseases need to overcome multiple hurdles to produce equitable vaccination rates across the country, according to a study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

The study analyzed vaccinations against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), which can lead to meningitis, pneumonia, and serious ear infections, all of which have critical health implications for resource-poor communities. Mr. Abhishek Sharma, an MPH student at BUSPH concentrating in global health, was lead author on the study, and Dr. Warren Kaplan, an assistant professor of global health at BUSPH, served as co-author.

In the study, published online in BMJ Open, Mr. Sharma and Dr. Kaplan looked specifically at private-sector health care from 2009 to 2012. The study was the first nationwide analysis of private-sector Hib vaccine coverage in India, where most of the country’s rural poor rely on public health programs.

Despite the Hib vaccine being available to private-sector markets since 1997, just 4 percent of children in rural India are protected against the disease. However, the study cautions that public sector rollout of the Hib-containing pentavalent vaccine will be difficult in those rural Indian states with poor access to private and public sector health care. “If public vaccine delivery systems are not upgraded, most of the Indian children living in the states with poorly performing public sectors will not benefit from introduction of the pentavalent vaccine,” Mr. Sharma said.

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