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> Harmony between bureaucracy and pubic representatives is must to promote immunization in flood hit areas of Sindh, says Mr. Nisar Ahmed Khuhro at PILDAT Briefing Session
   PILDAT Briefing Session on the Importance of Immunization in Flood Hit Areas
Immunization Awareness Programme
October 05, 2010


Karachi, October 5: Mr. Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Speaker Provincial Assembly of Sindh while chairing the Briefing Session on the Importance of Immunization in Flood Hit Areas organized by PILDAT, criticized the performance of the Expanded Programme on Immunization-EPI cell of the health department. “Lack of coordination between the health department and the public representatives caused the lapse in achieving targets of immunization campaigns in flood affected areas of Sindh”, said Mr. Khuhro. Public representatives are blamed for not contributing in highlighting the importance of immunization in flood affected areas while we see no summary of legislation regarding compulsory immunization is ever moved from the health department that shows lack of commitment at the end of departments, he added.


Mr. Khuhro also criticized the still pending status of PC 1 of EPI programme at departments’ level for the last 3 months. “We are in a habit of reacting to crisis while we need to develop a practice of acting and planning to control the crisis”, he said to the participants. While talking to the representatives of Provincial EPI programme present at the session, he questioned about the planning, allocation of resources to the vaccinators who go to the fields and use of the official authority to manage vaccinators. Mr. Khuhro supported the idea of issuing a vaccination card to the children at the time of vaccination.


The Briefing Session was organized by PILDAT to highlight the importance of Immunization in flood affected areas. Representatives of the Parliamentary Caucus to promote immunization in the Sindh Province, facilitated by PILDAT, including the conveners of Caucus Mr. Moin Amir Pirzada, MPA and Mr. Anwar Ahmed Khan Mahar, MPA participated in the briefing session. The members of the Parliamentary Caucus who participated included Nawab Taimur Talpur, MPA, Ms Farheen Mughal, MPA, Haji Munawar Ali Abbasi, MPA, Ms. Kalsoon Chandio, MPA, Ms. Rashida Akhtar Panhwar, MPA, Mr. Najamuddin Abro, MPA, Syed Bachal Ali Shah, MPA. Dr. Laila Rizvi, Immunization officer represented UNICEF at the forum while Dr. Rizwana Memon, Deputy Project Director-EPI represented the ministry of health at the briefing session. The session was attended by a large number of media persons, civil society representatives and volunteers working in flood affected areas.


Earlier the session was opened by Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, executive Director-PILDAT who gave the introduction and importance of the topic. Knowing the level of devastation occurred due to floods when health crisis is expected to emerge and outbreak of epidemics is on the rise, need for immunization becomes tenfold. Realizing the gravity of the issue this briefing session is organized to review the progress of recent emergency immunization campaigns taken place in flood affected areas, lessons learnt and to chalk out the future strategy, said Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob in his opening remarks.


Dr. Laila Rizvi in her presentation highlighted the importance of immunization in emergency situations. Immunization can protect more than 20% of the displaced population from vaccine preventable diseases (VPD) like Polio, Measles, Hepatitis, Diptheria, whooping cough, tetanus, childhood tuberculosis and influenza. These campaigns can avert a large number of childhood illnesses and deaths from the immediate threat of a Measles outbreak.


Describing the role of the UNICEF, she told that UNICEF have supported health department for vaccination of displaced population in IDP camps. Through UNICEF’s support 384,955 children are immunized in IDP camps, 128,180 children received polio vaccination, 105,928 children of 6-59 months received measles vaccination, 28,114 pregnant ladies received vaccination and 95,202 6-59 months children are supplied with Vitamin A.


Talking about the UNICEF future strategies to deal with emergency she said that revival of damaged and interrupted EPI Services, support Lady Health Workers programme in re-establishing Health Houses and LHWs services, support to Department of Health in measles follow-up campaign and continuation of advocacy, awareness campaigns are included in top agenda items.


Dr. Rizwana Memon while giving the presentation on the role of Ministry of Health in promoting immunization said that we have sufficient number of vaccinators, syringes etc, sufficient vaccine supply with new vaccines and larger teams of LHWs but our performance is hindered due to Low community awareness, un-sustained ownership in the field, lack of comprehensive birth registration system, absence of Legislation regarding vaccination and unequal distribution of vaccinators. Dr. Memon had to face strong questions by the MPAs and other participants regarding their targets and performance in the question answer session.


Mr. Moin Amir Pirzada said that now we should admit this fact that immunization has never been our priority agenda but now we need to plan our strategy and act accordingly to deal this calamity and health crisis. Mr. Anwar Ahmed Khan Mahar also criticized the ministry of health for not drafting any summary of legislation for compulsory immunization.