India Country Program

Collaborating locally to bring health within reach

PATH works in India’s highest-need, hardest-to-reach areas

PATH began working in India in 1978 to address some of the country’s crucial health problems. Over more than three decades, our program in the region has grown to become one of our largest. We work in some of the country’s highest-need and hardest-to-reach areas, collaborating with governments, communities, companies, researchers, and public health practitioners to find health solutions.

Preventing disease through vaccines and immunizations

PATH works in India to help develop new vaccines and vaccine technologies and strengthen immunization services to reach even the most remote villages. We’re advancing new vaccines against malaria, meningitis, pneumococcal disease (the most common cause of severe pneumonia), and rotavirus (the most common cause of severe diarrhea) by collaborating with partners on vaccine development, formulation, manufacturing, and compliance with regulatory authorities.

We work closely with the Government of India to strengthen health systems to introduce new vaccines and improve access to immunization services. PATH is helping to increase immunization coverage for young children in the slums of Mumbai and the state of Madhya Pradesh. Through our partnership with the Indian government, we helped ensure that 78 million children nationwide received vaccine against Japanese encephalitis, a debilitating disease that in India strikes mainly poor, rural communities. We helped introduce hepatitis B vaccine in the routine immunization program. The vaccine is now available free of cost in most state immunization programs.

PATH also facilitates research in India on methods to protect vaccines from damage due to exposure to extreme temperatures during transport and storage. Because reuse of needles can increase the risk of spreading HIV, hepatitis B, and other infections, PATH has supported manufacturers to mass-produce single-use syringes to make them available and affordable.

Improving health for mothers and children

Every year, thousands of children in India die within a month of birth. Thousands more survive, but grow up weak or sickly. Often, these outcomes could be avoided with increased health education. Through PATH’s Sure Start project, we and our nearly 90 local partners are enhancing India’s health system while helping families understand simple steps they can take to help their babies thrive.

Despite advances, women in India continue to be threatened by two highly preventable causes of death: postpartum hemorrhage and cervical cancer. India’s maternal mortality rate is 407 per 100,000 live births; 30 percent of the deaths are due to excessive bleeding after childbirth. PATH is working to understand the factors that lead to the inappropriate use of oxytocin—a drug with the potential to dramatically decrease postpartum hemorrhage—and to determine how to use it safely. We’re also gathering information that will help India establish a comprehensive cervical cancer prevention plan.

Access to safe water and healthy food

Millions of poor families in India lack access to safe drinking water, a condition that poses a daily threat to their health. We conducted extensive testing with potential users to design a household water treatment and storage device for Indian families. Now, we’re collaborating with manufacturers and distributors to provide a product that has the potential to make safe drinking water available and affordable.

To alleviate the debilitating effects of micronutrient malnutrition, PATH developed a pasta-like “grain” called Ultra Rice® that is manufactured from rice flour and essential vitamins and minerals. When blended with milled rice, typically at a 1:100 ratio, the resulting fortified rice is nearly identical to traditional rice in smell, taste, and texture. In India, we’ve established the safety and efficacy of the Ultra Rice® technology and are now working with partners of the Government’s Mid-Day Meal program to serve fortified rice to 185,000 schoolchildren daily.

Controlling tuberculosis

India has the highest burden of tuberculosis (TB) in the world. With 1.8 million cases occurring annually and 333,000 deaths from TB, India accounts for one-fifth of the world’s new TB cases and two-thirds of the cases in Southeast Asia. More than 70 percent of cases occur in the economically productive 15– to 54-year-old age group. Their deaths take a terrible toll on families and economies. PATH supports the government nationally and across 26 states by strengthening communication, laboratories, infection control, and surveillance of multidrug-resistant TB.

Banner photo: PATH/Satvir Malhotra.