Assessing the overlap between immunisation and other essential health interventions in 92 low- and middle-income countries using household surveys: opportunities for expanding immunisation and primary health care

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Background: Unvaccinated children may live in households with limited access to other primary health care (PHC) services, and routine vaccination services may provide the opportunity to bring caregivers into contact with the health system. We aimed to investigate the overlap between not being vaccinated and failing to receive other PHC services in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Methods: Using Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) data between 2010-2019 from 92 LMICs, we analysed six vaccination indicators based on the bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), polio, diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus (DPT) and measles vaccines and their overlap with four other PHC indicators – at least four antenatal care (ANC) visits, institutional delivery, careseeking for common childhood illnesses or symptoms and place for handwashing in the home – in 211,141 children aged 12-23 months. Analyses were stratified according to wealth quintiles and World Bank income levels.

Findings: Unvaccinated children and their mothers were systematically less likely to receive the other PHC interventions. These associations were particularly marked for 4+ ANC visits and institutional delivery and modest for careseeking behaviour. Our stratified analyses confirm a systematic disadvantage of unvaccinated children and their families with respect to obtaining other health services in all levels of household wealth and country income.

Interpretation: We suggested that lack of vaccination goes hand in hand with missing out on other health interventions. This represents an opportunity for integrated delivery strategies that may more efficiently reduce inequalities in health service coverage.

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