“Ensuring that all children are vaccinated and protected from life-threatening diseases is a top priority of the Pakistan government,” the State Minister Saira Afzal Tarar, said in her opening remarks to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, High Level Mission today in Islamabad.

Minister said Pakistan EPI is moving towards the integration of technology and its functional use in immunization for the service delivery and data management for effective programme management. We have many in-country successful examples such as Management Information System in KP, e-Vacc from Punjab, examples of public private partnerships like in Sindh and the enhanced role of Community  Support organization  in both the services delivery and demand generation; the successful practices of all federal and provincial the programmes can replicate and capitalize in other provinces/ areas.

Minister said that it is encouraging to share that in recent past Pakistan had three back to back successful grant applications for the Health System Strengthening, Rota virus introduction and now most recently Pakistan has also received approval of its Cold Chain Equipment- Optimization Platform application .

Rota virus has been introduced in the six districts in Punjab and soon will be introduced country wide.

The Cold Chain capacity was also one of the critical challenges; Pakistan conducted a nationwide cold Chain inventory assessment and through National Immunization Support Programme funding and Gavi support the Cold Chain will be upgraded.]

Minister appreciated the provincial governments for their strong commitment to EPI; especially for allocating the required resources and undertaking innovative approaches contextualized for the provincial needs.

On this occasion, the Federal Secretary NHSR&C highlighted last year’s achievements by the Expanded Programme on Immunization with special focus on the rigorous efforts for getting the PC-Is approved from various forums and finally ECNEC. He marked it a critical step in ensuring the budgets availability and funds release, well in time, for both the Federal and Provincial government

The Missions of Alliance partners including the World Bank, UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO), USAID, Department for International Development (DFID) and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BM&GF) expressed appreciation for the political commitment to immunisation at federal level and across all provinces and congratulated the government with the National Immunisation Support Project (NISP), which is a unique partnership that brings government and donor funding together to improve coverage and equity in immunisation in the entire country.

The Gavi Alliance has committed more than USD1 billion to support the strengthening of Pakistan’s immunisation program, in addition to the provision of technical assistance at National and sub-national level by UNICEF and WHO.

We are much encouraged by the collaboration and cross-learning across the provinces, said Ms. Hind Khatib-Othman, with Punjab taking the lead in supporting other provinces and sharing their experiences such as the use of innovative technology to track vaccinators’ performance and working closely with the polio program to identify missed children. KPK has also made significant progress, doubling the strength of EPI staff and services, including Lady Health Workers.

“The National Immunisation Support Project (NISP) is a key intervention to strengthen the health system for routine immunisation while addressing the sub-national complexities and differences through direct engagement with Provincial governments”, stated Dr. Timothy G. Evans of the World Bank.

It has further been shared during the National Inter-Agency Coordination Committee Meeting today that another milestone has been achieved towards sustainability of the routine immunization in terms of shifting the EPI budget from the development to recurrent side with the commitment of PKR 500 Million allocation in the upcoming budget.