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Published Date: Jan 5, 2012


Pakistan needs to develop a database on the availability of health services, especially to the poor segment of society; said speakers at a meeting here on Wednesday.
They said immunisation was the most cost-effective intervention against preventable diseases affecting the poorest of the poor.
The meeting on “Poverty and social impact of expanded programme for immunisation in Pakistan” was organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute.
The speakers said in the absence of any baseline survey or census, study was carried out on estimated numbers which may lead to naïve results.
They called for a comprehensive inquiry into exploring linkages between health and poverty relationship and also the factors that negatively influenced health sector outcomes.
Pakistan has the second highest poverty level and the highest infant mortality rate in South Asia.
The poorest of the poor have inadequate health service utilisation and unhealthy sanitary and dietary practices which subsequently cause them to have poor health status. Sajjad Shaikh, joint secretary and national project manager Poverty Reduction Strategy Monitoring, said Pakistan demonstrated well in polio immunisation until 2004. “But it is a matter of concern that Pakistan is still one of the polio-endemic countries with the rise of cases in the recent years.”
He said 189 cases were reported in 2011 compared to 144 in 2010. He called upon researchers to identify the gaps with empirical evidences and recommendations for policy makers to improve the health situation in the country.
Dr Sofia Ahmed of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics highlighted current crisis in immunisation and shared methodology of proposed study to analyse impacts of the immunisation programme.
She said polio cases in Pakistan were more than the combined total of the other three endemic countries – Nigeria, India and Afghanistan.
The speakers also talked about very low percentage of birth registration and vaccination card recall in the country.
They also demanded that vaccination cards should be made mandatory for admission to schools at the kindergartens level, proposing to link polio campaign with incentives for people.