LAHORE: Secretary Primary and Secondary Healthcare (P&SH) Department Imran Sikander Baloch said that improving vaccination coverage through innovative solutions was the foremost priority of the P&SH Department.
He said this in his message on Sunday as Punjab has geared up awareness activities on vaccination and immunization in all 36 districts as part of the World Immunization Week 2022 that is being commemorated world over from 24th to 30th April.
The Expanded Program on Immunization Punjab has chalked out a comprehensive plan to use the opportunity and highlight the use of vaccines as key intervention to save lives against vaccine preventable diseases.
Imran Sikander Baloch said, “Access to a basic lifesaving intervention like vaccination, can save many young lives. We have to ensure that the benefits of immunization are evenly shared by all. The P&SH department is taking all out measures to ensure that all populations, especially the poorest and the most marginalized, have equitable access to immunization services.
Our target is to remove bottlenecks and improve quality of services.” Punjab Government is committed to fill all vacant posts in due course of time including vaccinators to increase the access & immunization coverage.
The theme for 2022 is “Long Life for All; In pursuit of a long life well lived”. The ultimate goal of World Immunization Week is for more people – and their communities – to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. The UN Sustainable Development Goal 3.2.1 envisions an end of preventable deaths of newborns and under-5 children by 2030.
Director General Health Services Punjab Dr. Haroon Jehangir Khan said that the World Immunization Week 2022 was also an opportunity to increase demand through active engagement of a wide range of stakeholders. He said, “Vaccines not only prevent deaths but also reduce illness and disability, with wide-ranging health, social and economic impacts. Between 2010 and 2018, 23 million deaths globally were averted with measles vaccine alone.”
Director EPI Punjab, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Awan said that Punjab provides free vaccination for 12 vaccine preventable diseases including childhood TB, Polio, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Hib Pneumonia, Meningitis, Typhoid, Rota-related diarrhea, Measles and rubella which are administered through EPI outreach and fixed centres across the province. He said Punjab introduced two new antigens, Hepatitis birth dose and DTP Booster in Routine Immunization schedule.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed also said that the challenge of coverage in slums and underserved urban areas is being met by establishing a new EPI center through Public Private Partnership with PPA, PMA & Family Physicians association, recruiting new vaccinators, Mobile vaccination and creating mass awareness.
He said that the program is introducing innovative strategies to increase coverage in south districts as well as in five mega urban districts. He also appreciated the role of partners and donors like UNICEF, WHO, GAVI & BMGF for extending their technical, financial and in-kind support for immunization programs in Punjab.