Immunization backbone of the health system.
ISLAMABAD, September 02, 2009 (Balochistan Times): Immunization was
the backbone of the health system and the Government was provision of
preventive care services to the people through the Expanded Programme on
Immunization was high on the agenda. The Federal Secretary Health,
Khushnood Akhtar Lashari said this while chairing the National
Inter-agency Co-ordination Committee Meeting held here Wednesday. The
meeting was attended by international partners of the Government in the
health sector, high officials from the Ministry of Health and provincial
health departments and experts. Come what may adequate resources shall
continue to be provided to programmes like polio eradication and routine
child immunization with a view to saving innocent lives and ensuring
well being of our children added Lashari. Referring to the Polio
situation in the country he said perseverance and commitment was the key
as we grapple with challenges access into the security compromised
areas. In the year 2007 with just 32 polio cases being reported in the
country, we thought we were there and the end of polio was in sight.
However, the situation changed dramatically and there was an upsurge in
cases in 2008 owing to the security situation in parts of the country,
added Lashari. Earlier, briefing the meeting, national head of the
countrys Expanded Programme on Immunization, Dr. Altaf Hussain Bosan
said there was a need to push forward routine immunization in the
country and wit this in view the federal and provincial health
departments had declared October 2009 as immunization month. He said
during the month an intensive advocacy and public awareness drive would
be launched to centre-stage this issue and out reach teams would go in
to the communities and immunize children who were either missed by the
system or those whose immunization course was only partially completed.
A special mother and child week and a national immunization round for
polio will also be part of the immunization month, he informed. DR.
Bosan also elaborated the plan for expansion and strengthening of the
cold chain system for effective storage of vaccines at the Federal,
Provincial and District levels. Dwelling on the polio situation, Dr.
Bosan said to date 45 cases of the disease have been reported this year.
He said NWFP and FATA, Quetta and Karachi were areas of concern with
persistent polio virus circulation. The issue of safe access to security
compromised areas for the polio teams remains a major challenge remarked
Dr. Bosan adding that of the 24 cases reported from NWFP and FATA, 23
were from inaccessible to partially accessible areas whereas 3 out of
the 4 cases in Karachi are amongst the Pashtun families. A special
international mission assigned by the Director General World Health
Organization briefed the meeting on preliminary findings regarding
barriers to polio immunization. Terming accountability as a major
concern at the implementation level, the mission called for placing
institutional mechanisms in place to ensure effective accountability of
officials at different levels implementing the polio drive. The mission
called for deploying Lady Health Workers in poorly performing districts
to upscale routine immunization. The mission also called for investing
more in culturally sensitive and locally appropriate communication
strategies and approaches top mobilize the masses and increase their
knowledge of immunization while addressing public misconceptions and
suspicions vis a vis immunization. The meeting was also addressed by Dr.
Asad Hafeez, head of the Health Services Strengthening and Policy Unit
of the Ministry of Health who elaborated the progress made so far and
future plans of the unit.
(THROUGH ASIA PULSE)