Every year, 2.7 crore children are born in India. This is the sum that we hope becomes the dividend of India's growth equation. This cohort, it is projected, adds to India's celebrated profile of having the world's largest youth population for the next two decades -- approximately 356 million 10-24-year-olds. Projections peg great hope on this statistic, anticipating it to be the major factor driving the plot of India's growth story. However, there are daunting challenges accompanying this demographic advantage, particularly when it comes to health.
Dr. Vishwajeet Kumar is a global health scientist and a passionate advocate for enculturating science to address the rights of women and children's health in disadvantaged communities. Dr. Kumar's scientific work on the potential of community participation and behaviour change modification in reducing the mortality of newborns and mothers in Shivgarh, India is considered amongst the most influential studies in this field and has helped shape global policies and programs. Dr. Kumar founded the Community Empowerment Lab to bring together a trans-disciplinary team of scientists to co-create solutions at the confluence of science and local wisdom with community members in rural India. Dr. Kumar has previously served on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University and currently leads several large scale research for advancing the cause of maternal, neonatal and child health supported by the World Health Organisation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is a recipient of several Grand Challenges Innovation award and has widely published in the scientific literatures including The Lancet.
For India, World Immunisation Week (April 24-30) should be a time to take stock of a three-decade-long national immunisation programme and reflect on the challenges that prevent even the world's largest government-led immunisation scheme from reaching all its citizens. At present around 89 lakh children - one in every three children - don't receive all the vaccines available in the programme.
24/04/2015 8:09 AM IST
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