The new treasure hunt in India is called “Vaccination”, only that it is not a game anymore and for real. The current modus operandi pretty much looks like the game, hard to find.
Roll out of any program of this scale needs extensive planning and teamwork. It is like a relay; success depends on each leg of the journey ~ from supply to logistics to distribution points to adoption by end-user.
Leveraging technology with learnings from existing used cases within India and across the globe was key. All we had to was just broad-base the classic 4P strategy from the father of Marketing, Philip Kotler for this vaccination program. The clue to this treasure hunt lied right there.
For those who are newly introduced to the concept of 4Ps, Kotler outlined any successful business strategy around these: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. It is not too late to adopt it right away for massive vaccination drive in India
A vaccine is not another product; it is a life-saver, therefore trust and associated brand name are of paramount importance. Trust here is an outcome of quality, proven performance often co-linked to research & development of pharma companies.
Globally nations adopted a two-pronged strategy: either pro-actively partnered with Pharma companies to manufacture in-country or imported vaccines from a developed country. Both aimed to ensure supply is in abundance when required. This is the right strategy to adopt as time is of the essence.
GOI thus far with misplaced priorities failed to do either recently however have finally seemed to step up in the right direction in light of the recent crisis. Additionally, govt. of India should allow authorized private players to directly procure vaccines from other global players except the two domestic manufacturers procuring for the former.
Pricing is a fiercely debated topic currently even as there is an acute shortage of vaccine in the first place. Pricing a product that is meant to save “Life” is synonymous with life itself – not simple.
There are 3 aspects that needs to be factored in to determine the pricing strategy ~ a) Production cost which must include R&D investment b) Affordability by user c) Impact and perhaps the deciding factor in this case
The Government Must Adopt a Three-factor Strategy in place for Massive Vaccination Drive in India:
- Link to incentivize the price directly with quantity and timelines for the vaccine supply
- Reduce GST/Import duty on all end products/raw materials linked to the vaccine to ensure lower cost of production
Govt distribution centers
- Free of cost in government hospitals/vaccination centre hosted by Central and state govt. given we are one of highest paying tax nation
- Consistency of procurement price for both state and centre like one unit
- Private hospitals to be allowed to charge a price with upper cap
- Cost borne by Corporate for vaccination of employees and immediate family members should be included as part of CSR
- Waive off GST on all vaccines for next 18 months
Distribution strategy to a vaccination program is what a valve is to the heart. Core of its success.
It’s also perhaps the most difficult in terms of execution in a country like India where affordability, outreach and religious faith is a real challenge.
It is therefore important to rely on the robust democratic structures that our forefathers have institutionalized. At the top of that framework stands the federal structure of state and centre along with their extended arms that needs to work like an orchestra, synchronized to the last beat.
To complement the above, digital infrastructure India has built thus far needs to be leveraged to have a meticulous plan in place. This can be achieved in two manners.
- The govt should on priority scan the Aadhar/ITR database to map the pin-codes with the state, city/town/district and mapping it to nearest govt hospitals for demand estimation at the micro-level
- Central/State Govt should draw out the manufacturing units/ tie-up with national logistics providers for transportation and supply chain management based on data available
- Upon consent and registration, the user can be tagged to the nearby govt and private hospitals for notification
Massive Vaccination drive in India can be achieved through leveraging the Election Commission infrastructure :
- EC re-using the same machinery, voter id list and voting centres used for elections.
- A private network of Corporates in offices, NGO in their catchment areas and a franchisee of the big FMCG/Telecom companies in rural belts with proper governance and jurisdiction in place
This can be done in multiple phases with proper social distancing norms. This vaccination program is also an excellent opportunity for the government to create a database for migrant workers by capturing this data at the time of vaccination.
Normally promotion is the topmost agenda of any GOI initiative; ironically India started on a wrong note when a section of society spread misconception around vaccines. There was very little done to salvage the situation leading to slow adoption and wastage of vaccines.
India should try and replicate the very successful used case of polio campaign :
- An over-reach in terms of verbal and written communication regarding impact, safety protocols and side-effects of vaccinees through all possible channels available
- Extensive usage of radio, tv and digital mediums through trusted voices (national and regional) to communicate the message extensively
- Giving the right platforms to doctors/medical staff to address concerns.
- Keeping transparency and disclaimer at the heart of it
- Strict law enforcement against any individual spreading misinformation in the public domain
We have an opportunity for history to judge us differently: Let us place our belief in science over religion and faith for once and demonstrate it by our actions.