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PR No. 181 Radio Jockeys become Child Saviors; EPI ORGANIZED A ONE DAY SESSION TO ORIENT RADIO JOCKEYS TO SPREAD THE WORD ON ROUTINE IMMUNIZATION Islamabad: April 21, 2016

Over 32 Radio jockeys of private FM radio stations gathered in the capital today for a first-of-its kind brainstorming and hands-on orientation session on Routine Immunization (RI) for radio professionals. The initiative was led by The Expanded Program on Immunization, Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination in collaboration with Think Tank.

The one-day orientation brought together Pakistan’s top FM players for a common cause of saving children lives from vaccine preventable diseases. Organized as part of the World Immunization Week, 24-30 April, 2016 commemoration package, the session focused on how radio’s unparalleled reach and dedicated listenership could be leveraged to highlight the importance of vaccines for saving Pakistani children’s lives.

Dr. Saqlain Ahmad Gilani, National Program Manager, EPI speaking at the said, “FM radio can play a significant role in promoting important social issues while weaving them in regular programming.” Dr. Gilani shared a comprehensive overview of the Expanded Program on Immunization Pakistan with the participants. Additionally she presented the insight to the recent developments, achievements, constraints and milestones to be achieved. FAQs on the 9 Vaccine Preventable Diseases and all aspects of Routine Immunization were also highlighted so that the RJs are equipped with enough information so that they can inject into the community during their upcoming programmes scheduled during the WIW, 2016.

Dr. Saqlain Ahmad Gilani, also shared the salient achievement of the program. Under the Expanded Programme of Immunization, Government of Pakistan is providing vaccination services against 9 diseases while introduction of rotavirus vaccine, for diarrhea is on the cards. Currently over 5 million children are being immunized against 9 vaccine preventable diseases while over 6 million pregnant mothers are being immunized against Tetanus. Unfortunately parents in Pakistan still do not view immunization as a right of their children resulting in poor utilization of immunization services made available by the Government therefore all direct and indirect stakeholder needs to play their role to increase the coverage and the percentage of the Fully Immunized Child and Radio is by all means a very potential platform.

Ms. Huma Khawar, free lance writer and facilitator at the Workshop emphasized that radio has always been an effective platform to disseminate information on social issues. However, its potential is still under utilized especially with reference to demand generation on Routine Immunization. RJs, she said can play a very important role in demand generation around immunization.

Referring to the title of this year’s World Immunization Week—Close the Immunization Gap, she saidEPI is leveraging the strengths of FM radio to ensure a sustained discourse on immunization aiming to increase equitable vaccination coverage. Ms. Khawar added “As part of our media engagement, we realize the importance of engaging with radio as it has enabled us to reach key messages to audiences across the country.” Therefore we are keeping our fingers crossed and through this orientation session we anticipate a multiplier effect in terms of awareness creation amongst the masses.

Ms Sufia Shahid, a television and radio anchor and news caster shared her experience on utilizing the air time for public service messages. Giving examples, she motivated the RJs on their social responsibility and the role they can play by using this important medium to it fullest

A media tool kit on World Immunization Week containing various documents on the importance of routine immunization, commemoration of World Immunization Week and Expanded Program on Immunization were distributed at the end of workshop.

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