LAHORE: The Health Department’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), in collaboration with Save the Children Pakistan, launched its ‘Immunisation Documentary’ at a local hotel on Wednesday to mark the conclusion of World Immunisation Week, which was observed globally from April 24 to April 30.
The documentary highlights challenges and current status of immunisation among children in Pakistan. It attempts to expose myths related to vaccination of children under the age of five years in rural areas of the country and documents various case studies where vaccination has saved the lives of many children. The documentary encompasses issues of insufficient human resources as well as scarce number of vaccinators that impacts universal access of vaccination services.
Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Khawaja Salman Rafiq was the chief guest at the event. EPI Director Dr Muneer Ahmed, Dr Huma Khawar, Dr Naeem Zafar, Dr Javaid Umar, Dr Mubashar Rana and Save the Children Pakistan Advocacy Specialist Irshad Danish attended the launch ceremony.
Speaking on the occasion, Rafiq appreciated the initiative of launching the documentary and said: “The Save the Children has always been at the forefront of advocating children’s rights and by launching this impressive documentary; it has once again registered its concerns on deaths among children which can be prevented by timely vaccination of children. The Punjab government is concerned over the situation and taking appropriate measures to make the vaccination system more efficient and result- oriented.”
As per statistics, 27 percent of deaths among children under the age of five years occur due to diseases that can be prevented through vaccination.
EPI Director Dr Ahmad said: “Approximately 1,000 more children below the age of five years will die in Pakistan daily if the EPI services are discontinued. Immunisation is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions. It has eradicated small pox, lowered the global incidence of polio and achieved dramatic reduction in illnesses, disabilities and deaths from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and measles.”
Dr Huma Khawar appreciated the role of non-government organisations and especially that of Save the Children in creating awareness on the importance of vaccination in order to decrease mortality rate. She said that such documentaries and other media tools should be used frequently in order to sensitise stakeholders, particularly communities and parents.
Irshad Danish appreciated the commitment of the Punjab government, saying that vaccination coverage in Pakistan had gradually been improving over the past two decades with an increase from 35 percent in 1990-91 to 54 percent in 2012-13. He said that it was also encouraging that the percentage of children not receiving any of the six basic immunisations had decreased substantially from 28 percent in 1990-91 to only 5 percent.
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