6/15/2014

Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) and the Polio Eradication Initiative


File photo
File photo
LAHORE: The federal government has integrated the two major health programmes -- Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) and the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) – due to security threats to polio workers in the country.
The government has made the anti-polio drive part of the routine immunisation largely to prevent the polio staff from attacks by some elements who believe the ‘anti polio drops’ are a conspiracy against the children. The PEI has suffered a setback in the wake of some killings of polio workers in Karachi, Fata and KP.
Most of the countries had eliminated the crippling disease – wild poliovirus – under the Global PEI programme launched by the World Health Assembly in 1988 by passing a resolution. However, this programme could not get required results due to some factors, including security issues, in Pakistan.
The EPI is a disease prevention activity aimed at reducing illness, disability and mortality from nine childhood diseases preventable by immunization. The global target of the programme is to immunize over 95 per cent of infants and child-bearing-age females.
A senior government official told Dawn, under this first initiative of its kind taken by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, no separate or exclusive drives will be launched for polio eradication.
He said all the stakeholders concerned, including the World Health Organization, Unicef, and the provincial health ministries, have categorically been told to implement this new scheme from the first week of the coming month. It is being expected that under the EPI prgoramme, the staff will be able to reach millions of missed and not-available children in the inaccessible localities.
He said the Punjab health department has started implementation in phases and identified five districts where the campaign will be launched from May 5. The districts are Lahore, Multan, Muzaffargarh, DG Khan and Rahim Yar Khan.
The official said the two programmes were merged under a strategy and the WHO and Unicef would continue to provide technical and communication support to the provincial governments.
From now on the slogan ‘anti-polio drive’ will not be used before or during the campaign. The officials of the WHO and the Unicef will use the words like ‘drive against preventable diseases’ during the awareness campaigns.
“The integration of the two programmes will help strengthen the EPI activities and achieve the above 95 per cent target of immunization coverage to the children”, Punjab Health Director-General Dr Zahid Pervez told Dawn.
He said his department was presently facing shortage of field staff to implement the new strategy.
“Initially, we are going to launch the integrated programmes in five districts and the department has conveyed this to the Ministry of Health and Regulations”, he said.

Post Polio Litaff, Association A.C _APPLAC Mexico

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