World Immunization Week (WIW) 2022 is celebrated across the world in the last week of April. This year’s theme aims to highlight the collective action needed in communities to promote the use of vaccines to protect from different dangerous diseases. Vaccines are among the greatest advances in global health and development. According to UNICEF, for over two centuries, vaccines have safely reduced the scourge of diseases like polio, measles, smallpox, etc.
Routine immunization is a set of vaccination, given to children from birth to the age of 15 months. Completing the schedule protects them from 12 vaccine-preventable diseases such as tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, Haemophilus influenza type B, hepatitis B, diarrhea, pneumonia, typhoid, measles, and the recently added rubella.
Balochistan province has the lowest immunization rate as compared to other provinces of Pakistan. This low immunization rate has been confirmed by the health department of the government of Balochistan. In the province, the majority of parents are unable to vaccinate their children due to poverty, lack of information, and lack of basic health facilities. Moreover, people in rural Balochistan believe that the vaccination of children will lead to illnesses and diseases.
Similarly, they have the perception that it is a conspiracy of the western countries and that vaccines are made of ‘haram’ animals and will be injected into their blood.
BRSP with the financial support of UNICEF promoted routine immunization in 50 UCs (union councils) of 10 targeted districts including (Zhob, Duki, Kharan, Khuzdar, Killa Abdullah, Pishin, Quetta, Kech, Panjgur, and Lasbela) of Balochistan “. BRSP was able to vaccinate about 11,134 zero-dose and defaulter/refusal children in high-risk districts of Balochistan. This target was achieved with the support of CRPs (community resource persons) influencers, parents/caregivers, and government EPI staff. Moreover, these interventions & contributions overall boosted the immunization coverage rate in the province, and also changed the perception of people towards intake of routine immunization courses for their children.
BRSP supported the government EPI (Expanded program immunization) and improved the routine immunization coverage rate in high-risk districts. BRSP was able to remove the misconception and faulty beliefs of the rural communities through its organized communities and Community Resource Persons in all the hard-to-reach communities. BRSP also engaged the district health officers, religious leaders, teachers and community notables, and local influencers to dispel the myths around immunization.
Additionally, During the Measles and Rubella campaign, BRSP reached 81,920 caregivers of children (0-15 months) with key messages on maternal/child health and its benefits. In addition, 7973 children (0 dose and defaulters) have been referred and vaccinated under a routine immunization campaign. Similarly, BRSP vaccinated 3,326 children for Measles and Rubella in six districts (Quetta, Killa Abdullah, Kalat, Bolan, Nushki, and Mastung).
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agree with them.
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