Building on the success of Co-WIN, India’s U-WIN program focuses on digitalizing vaccination tracking of children and pregnant women

In the heat of the raging COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, India leverage digitalization to track the COVID-19 vaccination process involving nearly a billion people. The platform, called COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network or Co-WIN in short form, was considered as a major factor behind India being able to control the spread of the infections.

Now, a new pilot program has been launched in the northern hilly state of Himachal Pradesh to track vaccinations of nearly 43,000 women and children across two districts.

Called U-WIN and based on the predecessor platform, the pilot project is sponsored by the Central Government and aims to increase the immunity of children, and to make vaccinations for women and children hassle-free as part of the country’s Universal Immunization Programme (UIP).

Co-WIN and now U-WIN reflect the current Indian government’s efforts in building a more tech enabled country, especially in the health sector.

U-WIN is expected to ease the immunization efforts of the state governments and keep beneficiaries vaccinated. As part of UIP, one of the world’s largest public health program targeting nearly 26.7m newborns and 29m pregnant women annually. UIP is considered to be a major reason behind the reduction of the mortality rate among children below five years of age in India. A total of 12 vaccine-preventable diseases are covered in this free immunization program: diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, rubella, Hepatitis-B, meningitis, pneumonia, rotavirus, pneumococcal pneumonia, and Japanese encephalitis.

With U-WIN, COVID-19 will be added to the list.

Who will U-WIN benefit?
The pilot project is estimated to benefit 21,100 children and 23,000 women in the districts of Solan and Sirmaur of Himachal Pradesh. The portal will enable not only state health officials to track vaccination efforts effectively but will also help beneficiaries to keep a track of their own vaccination records.

State officials envisage that carrying vaccination cards and keeping tabs on their jabs will no longer be a hassle with U-WIN. Mothers can easily refer to the app and get timely reminders for their children’s next jab, as well as schedule vaccination appointments in advance.

The system will be utilized to register and vaccinate every pregnant woman, register every new birth, administer birth doses, and track all vaccination of the newborns. Designed to serve as a single source of information for immunization services, vaccination status, birth outcomes and more, U-Win is digitally linked to all government and private hospitals.

According to one U-WIN official: “Vaccination records under UIP are being maintained manually as of now. So, this will do away with the hassle of keeping a physical record. It will enable the digitalization of session planning and the updating of vaccination status on a real-time basis.”

Healthcare workers and program managers will be able to generate real-time data of routine immunization sessions and vaccination coverage for better planning and vaccine distribution, according to one official quoted by news agency PTI.

It took a pandemic to accelerate tech adoption
The Central Government is planning on a nationwide rollout, and efforts are already underway to prepare the ground for the same. All states and union territories have been sensitized on U-WIN functionalities and benefits. The pilot project will be further undertaken in 65 districts, and state health workers have been trained on the usage of U-WIN.

The vaccine acknowledgement and immunization card linked to Ayushman Bharat Heath Account (ABHA ID) will be generated for pregnant women and children. All states and districts will be able access a common repository to track and vaccinate beneficiaries.

Together, Co-WIN and U-WIN highlight India’s efforts in tackling the perennial problem of managing the health and immunization records of the huge and disparate population, a task which health officials believe will become much easier owing to increased acceptance of tech powered solutions.