29 September 2023

Resilient Communities, Stronger Future

UNICEF India and USAID successfully partnered to support the Government of India in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and continued with support till March 2021.  The interventions implemented under the partnership covering Delhi, Maharashtra,  Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh aimed to appropriately respond and mitigate the risks of extensive Stigma and Discrimination caused by COVID-19 through a comprehensive Risk Communications and Community Engagement (RCCE) Strategy supporting and supplementing the efforts made by the government at the national and state level. USAID was amongst the first donors for UNICEF’s RCCE response to COVID-19 and with the generous support to the tune of $3.5 million, UNICEF India has managed to achieve some commendable results. The partnership led to the development of over 100  communication materials in 11 different languages focusing on the themes of COVID-19  Appropriate Behaviors (CAB) and ‘stigma and discrimination’. In addition, under the  partnership, the campaigns against stigma and discrimination had a reach of more than  150 million through messaging on social media platforms. The partnership also led to direct engagement with the most vulnerable communities and networks living in urban slums,  and hard to reach rural areas. Under the partnership, the RCCE efforts played a crucial role in effectively delivering COVID-19 and vaccine-related information to more than a 100 million people. This compendium of stories brings together a collection of successful case studies from different states of India. These stories are selected from both rural and urban settings, and  they represent the work done at the grassroots level by the collaborative efforts of UNICEF and USAID under different subject areas. 
18 May 2023

Weekly surveillance of wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 gene detection for pandemic curve monitoring

This study was conducted as a weekly surveillance of wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 to gather evidence about the COVID-19 situation at the community level. The surveillance study was carried out in the Ahmedabad city of Gujarat state in India.   Given that up to 67 per cent of infected people showed SARS-CoV2 presence in faeces, alternative approaches such as wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) surveillance has gained loads of recognition as a viable option that can provide early warning of the upcoming prevalence of the disease within a community. One of the advantages of WBE is that wastewater contains faeces from a huge number of people. Therefore, it may require a far fewer number samples and less labour than clinical testing to know the presence of infected persons in the area. Overall, wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is a promising approach to understand the status of the disease outbreak in a certain catchment by monitoring the viral load in the wastewater, as it contains the excretion from both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. WBE had been an effective tool during past outbreak of other enteric viruses, such as poliovirus, hepatitis A and norovirus, it can be used as an early warning tool for the disease outbreak in a community and used to inform the efficacy of the current public health interventions. WBE data can help to estimate actual infected population due to the virus, as it covers asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic patients too, which may be underestimated by clinical surveillance.  For this study, wastewater samples were collected from nine different locations, including eight wastewater pumping stations and a single sewage treatment plant. The samples were collected weekly for twenty-five weeks from each location during September 2020 to February 2021
14 March 2023

Compendium of human Interest stories

Expanding access to immunization is crucial to achieving the Sustainable  Development Goals (SDGs). Immunization is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to protect children’s lives. More than half of the world’s most vulnerable children still miss out on the essential vaccines they need to survive and thrive. Globally, 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if children were vaccinated.  Realizing the right of every child, particularly the most marginalized, to immunization is UNICEF’s goal. As a technical partner to the national immunization programme of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, UNICEF stands committed to ensuring no child suffers from diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.  As one of the founding partners of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF has played a strategic role in enabling the partnership to expand its reach. The partnership is one characterised by high synergy and collaborative action. Globally, the partnership has made possible rapid gains in strengthening health systems to introduce new vaccines and close the immunization equity gap, deliver life-saving vaccines to the most vulnerable children, and ensure access to high-quality vaccines, immunization supplies and related services.  In India, the GAVI-UNICEF partnership supports the national immunization programme by empowering and leveraging grassroots civil society organizations and community-based organizations to conduct social mobilization activities toward increased demand for vaccines across the country. In addition, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the partners have deployed the wealth of knowledge and experience amassed from routine immunization interventions to accelerate awareness of COVID-19 appropriate behaviours and promote the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine among communities.In doing so, their work spans 54 districts across the 14 states of Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Bihar, and Odisha.  This compendium provides a glimpse of how the sustained efforts of the GAVI-UNICEF partnership have touched the lives of many – across states, communities, and cultures – presenting stellar accounts of all that community-led immunization interventions are capable of achieving. What follows, then, are some stories – ‘of the people, for the people, and by the people’.