KARACHI: The Sindh health ministry has planned to launch a ‘comprehensive scheme’ to monitor performance of lady health visitors (LHVs) and vaccinators through smartphones in routine immunisation programme, officials said on Wednesday.

They said the ministry would launch the programme in collaboration with the Aga Khan Development Network, which would help the ministry to track locations of the staff.

The officials said to give finishing touches to the programme a meeting between provincial Health Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar and officials of the AKDN was held on Tuesday in which they discussed the scheme.

Dr Shehla Zaidi and Saleem Sayani of the Aga Khan University, secretary health Ahmed Bux Narejo and other senior officials attended the meeting.

The officials said the system was already working successfully in district Tando Mohammed Khan.

They said in the first phase monitoring and evaluation system for lady health visitors and vaccinators would be launched in those districts where their performance was deemed not satisfactory.

“Through smartphones, not only movement of the staff will be checked, but photos of every vaccination activity will be sent to monitoring room that will be established in the health minister’s or the secretary health’s office as it is deemed fit,” said an official.

During the meeting, Mr Dahar was quoted as saying that LHVs and vaccinators would be provided fuel and other required financial support based on their performance. Besides, the non-performing staff would be suspended. All the vaccinators and LHVs would be given monthly mobile package that could be enough for them to use during their activity and their communication with officials in the monitoring room.

The minister said that individual monitoring system would enhance efficacy of routine immunisation programme.

The officials hoped that such effort would help them increase the low immunisation ratio, which at present was 29pc, much lower than what they recorded in 2006, which was 37pc.

Because of such ratios, officials admitted children were dying by preventable diseases, which including measles, hepatitis B, pneumococcal infections, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.

Key bottlenecks in low immunisation are said to be low accountability, children often getting missed for vaccination at health facilities, insufficient visits to villages by vaccinators, and little efforts at routine immunisation awareness.

Besides, vaccination reporting is unverified; the numbers reported by the government expanded programme on immunisation are much higher than that by the national Pakistan Demographic and Health Surveys, showing a gap.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2016