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Daily Times

Published Date: Jan 12, 2012


Experts at a seminar on Wednesday called for a comprehensive inquiry to explore linkages between health and poverty and factors that negatively influence the health sector.
The seminar titled “Poverty and the Social Impact of an Expanded Programme for Immunisation in Pakistan” was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
“Immunisation is the most cost-effective health intervention against preventable diseases affecting the poor sections of society,” said the experts. They stressed on researchers to identify gaps with empirical evidence and recommendations for policy makers to improve the health situation in the country.
Experts talked about a very low percentage of birth registration and vaccination card recall in Pakistan, and added that the polio campaign needed to be driven by households instead of the government.
They also demanded to make vaccination cards mandatory for admission in schools at kindergarten level and proposed to link polio campaign with incentives for people.
SDPI Research Fellow Dr Vaqar Ahmed said that the stakeholders’ consultation was aimed to carry out institutional analysis, gauge expectation of stakeholders from poverty and social perspective and identify issues to discuss with provincial administrations of Extended Programme on Immunisation (EPI). Joint Secretary and National Project Manager Poverty Reduction Strategy Monitoring Sajjad Shaikh presented a detailed background of various social impact analysis carried out in Pakistan.
He said that Pakistan prepared its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) in 2001, and was the first country in 2003 to become eligible for the International Monetary Fund’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF)’.
Dr Sofia Ahmed from the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) highlighted current crisis in immunisation and shared methodology of the proposed study to analyse impacts of immunisation programmes in Pakistan.
She identified several gaps in the current limited literature, such as lack of empirical analysis, regional differences in impact of EPI, impact of floods, terrorism and political and cultural factors.
During the discussion, participants deliberated on the relevance, objectives, ground realities, cost effectiveness and sustainability of any baseline study on the subject. Participants also observed that people in Pakistan mostly relied on private sector for health services, whereas immunisation services are only provided by public sector, which could be another reason for limited coverage of immunisation along with other factors.
Representatives from Ministry of Finance, Planning Commission, World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank, Extended Programme on Immunisation Unit at National Institute of Health and other members of the medical community also attended the seminar.