One would imagine that building an effective digital health system with the capacity to serve more than a billion beneficiaries would be an ambitious project. However, India developed the CoWIN platform in less than three months during the coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdown. In less than 18 months, CoWIN helped administer two billion Covid-19 vaccination doses, protecting over 90% of all eligible adults. CoWIN demonstrates how India has been progressively digitalising its health systems to improve efficiency and reach the last mile. The platform was built on the foundation and network established by another Indian digital platform, eVIN or the electronic vaccine intelligence network.
After the success of eVIN and CoWIN, India is now on the cusp of revolutionising the world’s largest universal immunisation programme for expecting mothers and newborns — reaching out to 29 million pregnant women and 26 million newborns annually, and protecting against 12 vaccine-preventable diseases, such as diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, rubella, rotavirus diarrhoea and hepatitis B. The Government of India has piloted a path-breaking digital health solution, U-WIN, to e-register and track the vaccination status of all expecting mothers and children across India.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government is committed to ensuring that no expecting mother or newborn is left out from receiving life-saving vaccines. This commitment has shown admirable results with a reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases and a decrease in India’s under-five mortality rate from 49.7 per 1,000 live births in 2015-16 to 41.9 per 1,000 live births in 2019-21, according to theNational Family Health Survey data. In addition, infant mortality rates have also decreased further.
States use different mechanisms and data sources to report and monitor births. Despite the best efforts of health care workers, the conventional Management Information System approach to collect and update data may result in beneficiaries being left out of the vaccination processes. In addition, incorrect projections from this approach could impact the vaccine supply chain, resulting in some regions receiving more vaccines than required while others face shortages.
The U-WIN platform is designed to become the single source of truth, with a common database accessible to all states and Union Territories, streamlining data-driven decision-making. U-WIN will also enable expecting mothers and newborns to receive vaccinations anywhere in the country, ensuring that migrant populations do not miss out on them. In addition, the system will allow citizens to book and schedule appointments and keep track of the vaccines they need to take.