Access and barriers to immunization in West Bengal, India: quality matters
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While many studies attempted to evaluate performance of immunization programmes in developing countries by full coverage, there is a growing awareness about the limitations of such evaluation, irrespective of the overall quality of performance. Availability of human resources, equipment, supporting drugs, and training of personnel are considered to be crucial indicators of the quality of immunization programme. Also, maintenance of time schedule has been considered crucial in the context of the quality of immunization. In addition to overall coverage of vaccination, the coverage of immunization given at right time (month-specific) is to be considered with utmost importance. In this paper, District Level Household and Facility Survey-3 (DLHS-3) 2007-2008 data have been used in exploring the quality of immunization in terms of month-specific vaccine coverage and barriers to access in West Bengal, India. In West Bengal, the month-specific coverage stands badly below 20% but the simple non-month-specific coverage is as high as 75%. Among the demand-side factors, birthplace of the child and religion of the household heads came out as significant predictors while, from the supply-side, availability of male health workers and equipment at the subcentres, were the important determinants for month-specific vaccine coverage. Hence, there should be a vigorous attempt to make more focused planning, keeping in mind the nature of the barriers, for improvement of the month-specific coverage in West Bengal.