eVIN to Co-WIN: Digitizing India’s immunization programme

- by Abhimanyu Saxena, Health & Governance Unit, UNDP India

May 2, 2022

Preeti Madawali at PHC Byakud, Belagavi, correlates the exact requirements of vaccines for upcoming vaccination. Photo Credit: UNDP India

It’s another busy day for 32-year-old Preeti Madawali, a pharmacist at the Government Primary Healthcare Centre in Byakud, a small village in the Belagavi district of the southern state of Karnataka. She matches the requirements of various vaccines needed by healthcare workers for upcoming vaccinations.

As Preeti peers at the temperature logger – a device that monitors stored vaccines' temperatures, she breaks into a hum. Vaccine storage and stock monitoring have not been a problem for a few years now. Preeti and her peers across India, especially those working in remote areas, were always struggling to manage an uncertain vaccine supply while ensuring that the quality of vaccines did not deteriorate before vaccination.

The eVIN (Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network) platform, introduced in 2014, revolutionized the way vaccines were received, stored, and further distributed to the last mile, thus improving the Universal Immunization Programme in India and ensuring quality vaccines for expecting mothers and children. 

Unused open vials being moved from one PHC to another, using eVIN. Photo Credit: UNDP India

eVIN is an initiative by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under GAVI, Health System Strengthening support. eVIN is a smart vaccine supply chain management system. It is a mobile, cloud-based application that caters to the needs of stakeholders across the vaccine supply chain and improves service delivery by ensuring rational distribution and equitable access to vaccines.

The success of eVIN has been instrumental in conceptualizing and scaling up Co-WIN – India’s digital platform for COVID-19 vaccination registration and management. It has enabled vaccinations of a record number of people in a short time.

How does eVIN work?

The eVIN platform includes an easy-to-use mobile phone application that enables cold chain handlers (staff responsible for storing vaccines at correct temperatures) to report data on vaccine stocks, consumption, and movement. It also has a SIM-enabled temperature logger for remote monitoring of vaccine storage temperature.

This data is stored in a cloud server that provides web-based dashboards and data analytics for programme managers and policymakers to view the information in real-time. This end-to-end visibility of key supply chain data allows stakeholders to effectively manage and make decisions to ensure that quality vaccines reach children and pregnant mothers on time.

Staff nurse T Jyothi immunizes a baby at the Kannuru Primary Health Centre in rural Bengaluru, Karnataka. Photo Credit: UNDP India

Active across all 36 States and Union Territories, eVIN’s journey from 2014 to 2022 is not just a hardware transition from a basic keypad-based phone to an advanced android based smartphone. It is a testimony to India’s capabilities in the technology sector.

eVIN today boasts of using leading technologies such as Big Data Architecture to manage and process voluminous data and API-based development to ensure interoperability that allows seamless exchange of information.

The platform is built on sustainable open-source software solutions, making it a sustainable, scalable, affordable, and convenient technological intervention.

Enabling the workforce

UNDP has trained hundreds of thousands of cold chain handlers and frontline health workers on the eVIN ecosystem, empowering them to go digital.  Today, over 60% of women workers use smartphones and mobile applications to conduct their daily work. Digital record-keeping has made vaccine handlers’ work easier. It has also created a sense of agency and shared responsibility.

This is evident by the fact that there is a close to 100% adherence rate for workers using eVIN to manage vaccines and vaccinations. This is a big feat, given it involves live monitoring across more than 29,000 Cold Chain Points which carry out around 5.5 million stock management-related transactions every month.

Way ahead

eVIN’s performance has been impressive, to say the least. An assessment by the MoHFW in 2018 indicated savings of 90 million vaccine doses. The return of investment from eVIN was estimated to be INR 2.91 for each one-rupee invested at the national level. This assessment was done in 2018 when eVIN was operational in 12 states. The savings and return on investment must have multiplied substantially with the nationwide scale-up and addition of new features in eVIN. 

MoHFW and UNDP plan to increase eVIN’s coverage across all levels of the supply chain starting from the vaccine manufacturer’s unit and facilitating last-mile data digitization by integrating eVIN and Co-WIN platforms.

Preeti and thousands of healthcare workers across India have managed one of the most demanding immunization campaigns across the world with relative ease.

Such technological interventions will ensure that India’s immunization program truly leaves no one behind.