ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services has decided to introduce the ‘National Electronic Immunisation Registry’ as a part of its ‘three-pronged’ strategy to improve immunisation coverage in Pakistan.
In the electronic registry, which will likely become functional by the start of next month, children’s data regarding immunisation will be entered into the system.
“Parents will receive an alert on their mobile phones that their child’s vaccination is due in a few days. They will also be able to know which vaccine is due and on what date,” Health Minister Dr Nadeem Jan said while speaking to participants of a meeting.
The meeting was also attended by Federal Directorate of Immunisation (FDI) Director General Dr Mohammad Ahmad Kazi. The minister said that because of the registry immunisation programme will be able to check the attendance and efficiency of the vaccinators.
“We have decided to ensure that every child gets vaccinated to achieve 100 per cent immunisation rate. We have been trying to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) at the earliest,” he said. It was also decided to include the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which is used to tackle cervical cancer, in the immunisation programme.
According to Dr Jan, the health ministry planned to convert 400 health centres to solar energy in the first phase and in the second phase all health centres would be solarised. “I have given targets to FDI and will monitor them myself. We have also decided to engage the provincial governments,” he said.
According to a statement, Dr Nadeem Jan after a debriefing session by FDI DG Dr Mohammad Ahmad Kazi affirmed commitment to enhancing the immunisation coverage under the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) to achieve universal coverage.
The minister stated that the HPV vaccine was a powerful medicine to prevent cervical cancer among young girls and it will be included in the immunisation programme.
It is worth mentioning that Pakistan has not yet met the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) target of the 95pc vaccination rate. The coverage remains suboptimal in Pakistan, with only 66pc of children aged 12–23 months reported to have received all the basic EPI vaccines as per a recent national demographic health survey.
The main reason behind the low coverage is the lack of trust among the masses and conspiracy theories. Clerics also create hurdles in the vaccination drives. An official of the health ministry, requesting not to be named, said: “A number of people do not go to the hospitals or health centres for the vaccination of their children and if they get the information that vaccinators have arrived in their street, they just close their door or lie that there are no children present in the house.”
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2023