ISLAMABAD: In a high profile meeting of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus held in the Parliament House today decided to take a lead in improving the current situation of Polio and Immunization in the country. This is high time for women to play their defining role in protecting our generations from paralysis, said Saira Afzal Tarar while chairing the meeting. As recommended by Independent Monitoring Board on Polio, we are all set to introduce Injectable Polio Vaccine next year, expressed Ms. Saira Afzal Tarar while discussing various interventions of the Government to improve the immunization coverage in the country. “Government of Pakistan’s PC-1 for Polio Emergency approved by ECNEC ensuring sustainability through 2015”, said Prime Minister’s Focal Person.
The meeting was convened by Secretary General, Women’s Parliamentary Caucus with the support of Ministry of National Health Services and PM Polio Cell. The meeting was chaired by Minister of State, Saira Afzal Tarar and Secretary General, WPC Mrs. Shaista Pervaiz Malik while Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Ayesha Raza Farooq led the discussion of the meeting. The session was attended by more than 40 members of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus.
Ms. Shaista Pervaiz, during her remarks emphasized on the role women legislators can play in mobilizing community for social change. She stressed on linking the progress of the Immunization and Polio Program with the social development and urged the minister to increase the incentives of the frontline workers.
Discussing the steps taken and planning for the upcoming low transmission season, Ms. Ayesha Raza Farooq said that we are using focused media approach including use of community mobilizers in High Risk Union Councils and Local influencers including Maliks, religious leaders, local teachers, local healthcare providers and Health camps involving the Army, and providing other services alongside Polio including Immunization of other vaccine preventable diseases, Vitamin A and hygiene kits.
Ms. Ayesha Farooq said that we are adopting special & flexible approaches in priority areas including One-day security cordoned campaign, collective (hujra) vaccination, self-vaccination, engaging healthcare providers, maximizing EPI centers, permanent vaccination teams
“In light of Prime Minister’s directive we are also working on the revised Communication plan with a new branding that converges routine immunization and polio” revealed Ms. Ayesha Raza Farooq. This was also one of the key recommendations of the Independent Monitoring Board Report. Strengthening routine immunization is critical to achieving sustained reduction in polio virus transmission.
Deputy Country Representative UNICEF, in her remarks appreciated the role of women Parliamentarians and expressed the commitment to support the Government in the new communication plan and introduction of Complete Immunization package as a right of every child
During a candid discussion session, women Parliamentarians proposed a number of interventions to engage with the community level including intensive awareness campaigns, using radio for sharing public service messages, close coordination with district administration, puppet shows to engage children and primary caregivers. Concerns of the members were also answered by Minister of State and Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio.