Vans procured with funds from Gavi will be used to improve essential immunization coverage in high risk districts including mega cities
Islamabad, 11 November 2021 – Today, twenty three vans to be used for expanding essential immunization coverage in high risk districts including five mega cities and the Islamabad Capital Territory, were handed over by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to the Federal Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI).
The Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health, Dr. Faisal Sultan received the vans from UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, Ms. Aida Girma in presence of the World Health Organisation Representative, Dr. Palitha Mahipala. The SAPM then passed on the ceremonial keys of the vehicles to representatives of the provincial health departments.
“We are thankful to our partners like UNICEF, WHO and Gavi for their continuous support to us as we strive to improve health services for the people and especially children of Pakistan,” said Dr. Faisal Sultan, Specials Assistant to Prime Minister on Health. “This donation of vehicles would further strengthen our immunization programme and we will be able to manage our campaigns in a more effective manner.”
“I would like to share that we are about to launch the biggest ever measles campaign in the world. It would cover the entire country and it aims to vaccinate 90 million children. While we continue with the COVID-19 vaccination during which 1.7 million people were vaccinated yesterday in a single day, we are about to launch this massive campaign against measles. So far only one case of polio has been detected in the current year which is a very good news. All this speaks of the strength of our health system and we register progress in every domain,” he added.
With funding of around 537,000 US dollars from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a total of 30 vehicles, 23 Suzuki vans and 7 Hilux vans, were to be handed over by UNICEF to EPI for expanding immunization services in high risk districts, under-served areas and densely populated urban areas with low capacities. While 23 Suzuki vans were handed over today, remaining 7 vehicles are in the process of procurement.
“UNICEF has been supporting EPI in terms of procurement of vaccines, cold chain management and raising awareness about importance of immunization so that communities could benefit from the high quality of services being provided at health facilities and at their door step during campaigns,” said Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative. “The vaccination vans handed over today to EPI will help expand these services.”
“We are encouraged by the dynamic leadership of the Ministry of National Health Services and EPI and are grateful to our donors such as Gavi for their financial support as we push forward to achieve the shared objective of keeping every child in Pakistan, alive, healthy and thriving. ”
Easily identifiable through EPI branding, each of these vans would carry a team of health professionals provided by the respective district health department, including a vaccinator, Lady Health Visitor, community midwife and a social mobilizer along with a standard kit of medicines and equipment.
Each team will be able to provide health and hygiene services including vaccination, vitamin A supplementation, deworming, antenatal care, screening of nutritional status, provision of micronutrient supplements and behavioural change communication messages.
“WHO is partnering with the Government of Pakistan and supports ensuring that all children get vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dr Palitha Mahipala, WHO Representative in Pakistan.
“Vaccination is one of the most successful public health measures in the history of medicine. The collaboration and the donation are important to strengthen routine immunization services and improve coverage. Currently, a nationwide measles & rubella (MR) campaign is planned across the country from 15 to 27 November 2021. This MR campaign will provide protection against the deadly measles and rubella diseases to more than 91 million children from 9 months to less than 15 years of age, said by Dr Palitha Mahipala, WHO Representative in Pakistan,” he added.
Abdul Sami Malik