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UN agencies work to support India's COVID-19 vaccine rollout

By TIOL News Service

NEW DELHI, JAN 20, 2021: AS India launched the world's biggest COVID-19 vaccination campaign, several United Nations (UN) agencies are working closely to train health workers implement the massive inoculation drive.

In India, UN partners are supporting the government's vaccination drive by providing technical assistance for the development of operational guidelines and other training materials for state and district programme managers and vaccinators, and establishing tracking and accountability frameworks, said World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in India, Mr Roderico H. Ofrin.

"WHO field officers have facilitated the highest-level oversight through regular task force meetings at State and district levels, which are chaired by the Principal Secretaries (Health) at the State level, and District Magistrates at the district level," he added.

The WHO participated in dry-run simulations and provided feedback on management of vaccines, registration of beneficiaries, as well as reporting on vaccination coverage and adverse events following immunization.

It also worked with the government and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on real-time reporting and problem-solving when issues arose at the vaccination sites, according to Mr. Ofrin.

At the provincial level, WHO supported the implementation and monitoring of health policy, such as developing standard operating procedures, preparing technical briefs, and providing best practices from other parts of the India as well as other countries.

Similarly, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) supported communication and advocacy efforts to ensure the dissemination of factual information to stakeholders and communities. The agency also helped train healthcare staff in infection control and prevention, and psychosocial support to children and caregivers.

On the first day of the campaign on January 16, over two lakh vaccine shots were given across the country. So far, around 6.31 lakh jabs have been administered to healthcare workers and there have been about 580 cases of adverse effects following the vaccinations.

Though vaccination programmes are underway, continued vigilance against COVID-19 and preventing its spread remain as important as ever, said Mr Ofrin recommending the "three W's – wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance."

India reported 13,823 new COVID-19 cases with 16,988 recovered and 162 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry data showed today.


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