ISLAMABAD: Stakeholders at a webinar said Covid-19 vaccine donors should strictly monitor the distribution and administration of free doses in Pakistan.
They feared that free vaccine doses arranged by donors might be sold at high prices as it was done in the case of Covid-19 free testing kits.
The trust deficit between the citizens and the government has widened. So, it is necessary to have an external monitoring and control mechanism for the Covid-19 vaccination to benefit the genuinely needy ones and the frontline workers and elderly people.
They also urged the government to first develop an inclusive and integrated Covid-19 vaccination policy followed by a strategic action plan as just firefighting would not serve the purpose to take care of people’s healthcare and preventive needs. The federal government and provinces have to be on the same page in this regard.
The webinar was organised by the Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) and moderated by its Executive Director Munir Ahmed.
Speaking on the occasion, chief of Panah Gahs (shelters) Programme Naseemur Rehman said the government would take care of the marginalised communities during the Covid-19 vaccination phase after administering the free doses to the frontline workers, including medical professionals and aged persons.
He hoped that the government would rationalise and expedite the process. He said institutional gaps have widened and trust building is essential to deal with such type of a national crisis.
Dr Masood Ghani, a health practitioner and vice district governor Association of Lions Clubs International, said the centre and provinces were not on the same page in handling the pandemic and its vaccination.
“We don’t see any clear and steadfast government policy and engagement of its institutions accordingly. That is why the public is also not taking the pandemic seriously. Despite all lousy handling, we are grateful to Allah for saving us from any major disaster. I suggest to the government to have an inclusive vaccination policy before going to buy anything,” he said.
Dr Mohammad Ali said many actions of the government were commendable though they were not taken well on time.
“Same is the case with the vaccination phase. We are not clear about it. Even professionals are not aware of the clinical trials of any vaccine in Pakistan. The government should have engaged any think-tank to develop a Covid-19 vaccination policy and strategic action plan after finalising the vaccination trials. We have no data analysis of the vaccination trials that why we are preferring the Chinese one,” he said.
Munir Ahmed said donors shall send their own teams with free vaccines doses to ensure transparency in vaccination and rational distribution. The public have a trust deficit in government aides keeping in view the past practices of misuse of Covid-19 testing kits. Donors should have their direct monitoring of control of the free vaccine doses, he said.
Dr Arshad Waheed Chaudhary highlighted the importance of civil society in the vaccination phase to ensure transparency and fair distribution.
Namood Muslim, a journalist, called for engaging the corporate sector and the pharmaceutical industry under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and philanthropists.
Another speaker, Azhar Qureshi said only a few cases were reported from villages that showed immunity level in the rural areas, and the same is the case with children.
A political figure from Gilgit-Batistan, Iqbal Hussain said they don’t have sufficient doctors, paramedics and nurses to handle the pandemic and vaccination.
Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2021