Patients Helping Hands in collaboration with WHO, UNICEF and EPI launched a 2-days awareness campaign in lieu of World Immunization Week recently at National Institute of Child Health, Karachi. A Conference was also arranged with multiple eminent paediatricians discussing various aspects of immunization, its significance, the current statistics of the country and the future eradication goals.
The program started with a welcome note delivered by the host for the occasion, giving a brief about the organization’s mechanics and how it came into being and since then, what achievements they have under their cap. It was followed by speaker sessions. Speakers for the occasion were Dr. Khalid Mahmood, Associate Professor Peads Medicine at NICH, Dr. Fyezah Jehan, Senior Instructor at Aga Khan University Hospital Paediatrics, Dr. Qamar Zaman, Consultant Peadiatrician, Ziauddin Hospital, Dr. Waqar Ahmed Soomro, Provincial EPI Officer -WHO, Usman Chachar, EOC coordinator Sindh and Suneel Raja, Provincial COMNet Officer, Fahad Fehmi, Vaccine Management and Logistics Officer, UNICEF Pakistan
Dr. Waqar briefly shared EPI statistics. He discussed the importance of all antigens for nine vaccine preventable diseases. He added that though, there is low coverage in EPI but government is striving for its best. He shared that EPI team is facing a lot of challenges other than management issues, like security challenge and accessibility to monotonous and desert/Katch area which has become a great hurdle to access vulnerable community and children.
Suneel Raja appreciated the efforts of PHH team and stressed that polio is a mass campaign program where community ownership is highly required. Health practitioners can play a vital role in mobilizing the community. He requested all medical students to support the program for vaccine preventable diseases, in order to reduce the vaccination gap amongst the community.
Dr. Usman, Coordinator for Polio Emergency Centre shared current statistics of polio and strategies to overcome polio virus. He added that we need support from community especially from medical doctors to mobilize community and develop a screening system to ensure vaccination of all children. He appreciated efforts of young doctors.
Mazhar Ali Khamisani, Programme Director EPI discussed how not only polio but other vaccinations hold equal significance. And no matter what the ailment be, children should be checked for proper vaccination and followed. He was saddened to share, how till-date children despite visiting hospitals, miss out on their regular vaccination shots. He pressed making immunization accessible to all is an equal responsibility of the entire health system.
The conference was attended by numerous aspiring young doctors in the making and the senior ones. Polio was a subject discussed in detail, considering Pakistan still isn’t a polio free nation which serves as an alarming situation for the country’s state of health.
Students along with teams of officials from the aforementioned organizations visited patients bed to bed spreading awareness regarding the significance of vaccinations and how these little measures could protect their children from life threatening diseases like polio, diphtheria tetanus etc. This initiative was much appreciated by the WHO, UNICEF and EPI.