Call for exploring linkages between health, poverty
“Immunization is the most cost effective health intervention against preventable diseases affecting the poor sections of society”, said the experts. They stressed on researchers to identify gaps with empirical evidences and recommendations for policy makers to improve health situation in the country.
Experts talked about very low percentage of birth registration and very low percentage of vaccination card recall in Pakistan and said that polio campaign must derive from households instead of government push. They also demanded to make vaccination cards mandatory for admission in schools at kindergartens’ level and proposed to link polio campaign with incentives for people.
Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, Research Fellow at SDPI said that the stakeholders’ consultation is aimed to carry out institutional analysis, gauge expectation of stakeholders from poverty and social perspective and identify issues to discuss with provincial administrations of Extended Programme on Immunization (EPI).
Sajjad Shaikh, Joint Secretary and National Project Manager, Poverty Reduction Strategy Monitoring presented a detailed background on various social impact analysis carried out in Pakistan.
He informed that Pakistan prepared its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) in 2001 and was the first country in 2003 to be graduated for IMF’s ‘Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF)’.
Dr. Sofia Ahmed from Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) highlighted current crisis in immunization and shared methodology of proposed study to analyze impacts of immunization programme in Pakistan. She identified several gaps in already available limited literature such as lack of empirical analysis, regional differences in impact of EPI, impact of floods/terrorism, political and cultural factors.
During discussion, participants deliberated on the relevance, objectives, ground realities, cost effectiveness, and sustainability of any baseline study on the subject. Participants also observed that people in Pakistan mostly rely on private sector for health services whereas immunization services are only provided by public sector, so it can be another reason of non coverage of immunization along with factors,i-e, education, gender, age, religion, culture, family and community background, law and order, environment, climate and disasters.
Representatives from Ministry of Finance, Planning Commission, World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank, Extended Programme on Immunization Unit at National Institute of Health, National Health Services Academy, Pakistan institute for Development Economics, civil society organizations, and members from medical community attended the seminar.