Government of India
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
The Universal Immunization Programme of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) provides immunization services free of cost to all children across the country as per its Immunization schedule.
There have been reports in a section of media which have highlighted concerns regarding the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) and the transitioning of the NTAGI Secretariat to the National Institute of Health & Family Welfare (NIHFW) from Immunization Technical Support Unit (ITSU).
NTAGI is the highest advisory body on immunization in the country which consists of independent experts who provide recommendations on vaccines after reviewing data on disease burden, efficacy and cost-effectiveness of vaccines.
The Immunization Technical Support Unit (ITSU) was established to support MoHFW for evidence-based planning, program operations, monitoring and evaluation, strategic communication, cold chain and vaccine logistics management and support for Adverse Event Following Immunization. One of the functions of ITSU was to host the NTAGI Secretariat to facilitate the secretarial work of NTAGI which includes coordination of its regular meetings.
In the last few years, many steps have been taken to strengthen NTAGI by providing a Secretariat, establishing a code of practice and now institutionalizing it at the NIHFW. The transitioning of the NTAGI Secretariat from ITSU to NIHFW was a planned activity and is part of the health system strengthening efforts by the Government. This will have no adverse impact on its functioning. There is no financial link of NTAGI with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) or any other organization as the body consists of independent experts.
As far as technical support by ITSU is concerned, it is functioning till 28th February 2017 and the project will continue to support the immunization program in techno-managerial capacity beyond this date. The contours of this support are being finalized with Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and BMGF.
Some media reports have suggested that all health-related collaboration with the Gates Foundation with National Health Mission (NHM) has been stopped. This is inaccurate and misleading. BMGF continues to collaborate and support the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Since its formation in August 2001, the NTAGI has met six times (December 2001, October 2004, March 2006, July 2007, June 2008 and August 2009). A number of important interventions, namely introduction of vaccines against Japanese encephalitis, hepatitis B, rubella (in combination with a second opportunity for measles vaccine, as measles rubella vaccine) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (as a combination pentavalent vaccine) and introduction of autodisable syringes in the UIP, were recommended by the NTAGI and have been accepted by the MoHFW [Subcommittee on introduction of Hib vaccine in Universal Immunisation Programme, National Technical Advisory Committee on Immunisation, India. NTAGI Subcommittee recommendation on Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine introduction in India. Indian Pediatr 2009; 46: 945–954]
CODE OF PRACTICE
NATIONAL TECHNICAL ADVISORY GROUP ON IMMUNISATION
- The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) was established by an order of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in 2001. As India’s apex advisory body on immunization, the NTAGI provides guidance and advice to the MoHFW on provision of vaccination and immunization services for the effective control of vaccine preventable diseases in the country.
- Since its establishment, the NTAGI has been reconstituted twice, in 2010 and 2013. As per the MoHFW order dated 25 June 2013 (13011/01/2013), the NTAGI now includes a Standing Technical Sub-Committee (STSC). The STSC is tasked with undertaking technical review of scientific evidence on matters related to immunization policy and programmes. Final recommendations are drafted by the NTAGI taking into account the scientific review by the
STSC and any other relevant evidence.