Colleagues at ACCESS Health India were invited to speak at the US India Strategic Partnership Forum’s International Symposium on ‘Life Course Immunization: Pulse of Resilient Health System’ that took place on December 2. Policymakers and experts from academia, healthcare and pharma industry, and the development sector from India and beyond spoke at the event.

The discussion aimed to bring attention to the role of immunization for vaccine-preventable diseases in protecting the health and well-being of all age groups around the world, and to the importance of health system resilience.The discussions centred around how domestic, regional, and global life-course immunization strategies maybe advanced with experts from various countries discussing their case studies, country-specific policies and impact.

Representing ACCESS Health at the event were Dr. Krishna Reddy Nallamalla, Regional Director, South Asia and Mr Maulik Chokshi, Deputy Country Director (Technical). Mr Chokshi moderated a plenary session titled “Importance of Life-Course Immunization: Evidence to help create Resilient Health Systems” on which Dr Reddy was a panelist. The session focused on the advantage that adult immunization can have to individual’s life as well as to the economy.

Dr Reddy spoke about how the interaction of infections and non-communicable diseases in adults underlies major clinical events. “Infection prevention is as essential in adults as in children. Non-medical measures and vaccines should be advocated in all adults. We should not lose the window of opportunity provided by COVID-19 in creating awareness amongst public, providers, and policymakers,” he said.

The change in demographic pattern has increased life expectancy and there are increasing number of potentially productive adults post retirement. “To be a part of national programs adult immunization needs to demonstrate its effectiveness, and post that there needs to affordable access. And for that we need data to support its effectiveness and sources of funding that can support adult immunization,” said Mr. Chokshi.

Other panelists at the session were Dr. Gagandeep Kang, Professor, Department of Gastrointestinal Sciences, CMC, Vellore, Dr. Jack Langenbrunner, Independent Consultant, World Bank, Prof. Habib Hasan Farooqui, Additional Professor, Indian Institute of Public Health, Public Health Foundation of India, Dr Rakesh Aggarwal, Director, JIPMER, Puducherry, Dr Rajat Goyal, Country Head India, IAVI, Dr. Parag Sheth, Regional Director, Medical Abbott India Limited, and Ms. Bjelle Roberts, Associate Director, Global Vaccines Policy, MSD Pharmaceuticals

Special remarks were made by Dr Veena Dhawan, Additional Commissioner (Immunization) Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, Dr. Madan Gopal, Senior Consultant (Health), NITI Aayog, and Dr. Randeep Guleria, Former Director, AIIMS New Delhi.

Immunization as the most cost-effective public health intervention after clean water saving millions of lives every year. Immunization does not only prevent infectious diseases but also reduces the severity and long-term side effects of chronic diseases while reducing the disease burden among unimmunized individuals and hence becomes the foundation of the primary healthcare system while building resilience across the health system.

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