Blog‎ > ‎

Coordinated Efforts… Towards Immunization

posted Apr 23, 2018, 8:34 AM by GAVI CSO   [ updated Apr 23, 2018, 8:42 AM ]
By Sundas Warsi, CHIP 

Vaccinations are effective and protect children from deadly diseases. This is a cause which requires consistent efforts to mark sustainable improvements in the immunization coverage rates and hence reduce infant mortality rates of the country. According to the World Bank, infant mortality rate of Pakistan is estimated to be around 66 per 1,000 live births[1]. During 2014-15, Pakistan’s national immunization coverage rate was estimated to be around 57% based on record[2] with great disparities among provinces. At subnational (provincial level), Punjab has highest coverage rate of 65%, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has coverage of 53% whereas Sindh has 42% coverage and Balochistan has coverage of 29%, PSLM 2014-15. 

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are flexible, adopt innovative approaches and specializes in different models for improvement in health and immunization. CSOs programmes revolve around community mobilization, research, advocacy, awareness raising, monitoring and service delivery for reaching difficult, neglected and hard to reach areas. CSOs also work in security risk areas through local staff to ensure vaccination in such areas. CSOs are also viable in addressing refusals due to continued and consistent efforts, credibility and effective communication strategies. The social mobilization and deep roots in communities are core of any activity that CSOs undertake. CSOs have also been instrumental in making a remarkable different in coverage rates in urban slum areas.  
Pakistan CSOs Coalition for Health & Immunization (PCCHI), is a national level, immunization platform, who aims to support, organize and strengthen CSOs to extend support to EPI for improving immunization coverage rates in Pakistan. PCCHI has 81 members from Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. It has its governing bodies i.e., National Executive Body and Provincial Executive (one for each province). Over the years PCCHI has been putting efforts to establish a healthy working relations with EPI Cells at Federal and Provincial level. PCCHI has been guiding and regulating CSOs to coordinate with their respective EPI teams at Provincial and District Level for integration and planning of immunization related interventions. Infact it is one of the objectives of PCCHI to facilitate and improve capacity of CSOs to contribute to national health sector planning and coordination. Given the complex situation of Pakistan with respect to immunization, it calls for more coordinated efforts from partners and stakeholders at all levels. The two way communication and harmonization will allow to capitalize on each other’s strengths for better results. It will also help EPI teams to utilize CSOs strengths in the areas where required and ensures best utilization of resources. It has been learnt that working in isolation may not address the issue and may not generate sustainable results.

One such event where PCCHI and its member CSOs effectively coordinate with EPI teams has been World Immunization Week. Every year, PCCHI coordinates with EPI at Federal Level for a joint planning of the week. At the same time, PCCHI encourages its member CSOs to coordinate with Provincial and District EPI teams to participate in the planning meetings. Last year, PCCHI developed advocacy messages and disseminated leaflets, wall posters and banners among its member CSOs.

CSOs from each of the four provinces i.e., Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan came forward and organized events such as: awareness walks, advocacy seminars, sessions with communities and teachers, etc. Almost 25 CSOs shared reports and pictures of activities. Many CSOs organized awareness raising session in schools reaching to 1,083 children from Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. CSOs also arranged vaccination camps in more than 35 different locations from Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan vaccinating about 5,224 children. 

[2] Pakistan Social Living Measurement Survey (PSLM) 2014-15