Harnessing the power of community-led nudges to combat vaccine-preventable diseases

Image: Pippa Ranger, Innovation Advisor, DFID


The World Health Organisation estimates that vaccinations save 2-3 million lives every year. But still, one child dies every minute from a vaccine-preventable disease. Suvita wants to change that. 19 million children every year don't receive their basic vaccinations before their first birthday. Half of these are in India. 


Vaccinations are amongst the most evidence-based and cost-effective health interventions in existence. Delivering them to children requires successful co-ordination of a number of actors, from their parents to medical professionals to government decision-makers. Emerging high-quality evidence from Haryana, India has identified a new approach which increases vaccination rates by 22% in some of the hardest-to-reach communities. A large scale randomised controlled trial found that appointing carefully selected volunteer community ambassadors helps to spread the message to parents about the importance of vaccinations, significantly increasing the number of children who attend local government-run vaccination camps.


Our mission is to scale this programme, making it available to new parents and their children across India.


Varsha Venugopal


Varsha has more than 15 years' experience of setting up and running development projects and programmes in global institutions including the World Bank and the Open Society Foundation. She has a Master’s degree in Development Management from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s in Urban Planning from the School of Planning and Architecture in India. In her spare time, Varsha likes to run and read non-fiction (but not at the same time).

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Fiona Conlon


Fiona recently graduated from the University of Cambridge with a first-class degree in Natural Sciences and Management. She has interned at the World Health Organization in Geneva, organising a conference on non-communicable diseases. Fiona has also worked on the planning, implementation and evaluation of health interventions in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with the student-led charity Cambridge Development Initiative. She likes sports, the outdoors and evidence-based policy.

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