World Immunization Week 2022 campaign

Islamabad:  The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination and the Federal Directorate of Immunizationtoday commemorated the “World Immunization Week (WIW), 2022”with the theme “Long Life for All.”Every year the WIW is celebrated in the last week of April (24 to 30 April), aiming to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages, against infectious diseases.

“This year’s theme Long Life for AllWorld Immunization Week will urge greater engagement around immunization globally to promote the importance of vaccination and improving the health and wellbeing of everyone, everywhere and throughout the life”, Dr. Akram Shah, Director General, Federal Directorate of Immunization, in his opening remarks said while addressing the event.

“In the current globalized world, as we have witnessed in the case of COVID-19, an outbreak anywhere is a threat everywhere. Therefore, it is a dire need to capitalize on WIW, 2022 and spread awareness across Pakistan about vaccines as one of the best tools to improve health and wellbeing, said Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, Director General Health, MoNHSRC.

“Today, I would also like to take this opportunity to salute our unsung heroes — the Immunization Champions. Without these champions we would not have been able to conduct the largest ever immunization campaign for Measles-Rubella. Through these champions, we were able to reach and vaccinate 93 million children in Pakistan,” added the Secretary Health.

The event also marked the dissemination of National Immunization Policy 2022. Updated after a period of six years to strategically respond to recent developments, the targets and goals,  the document is aligned with our National Health Vision 2025 and international Immunization Agenda 2030 (IA2030). The Director General Health urged the Federal Directorate of Immunization (FDI), provincial EPI teams, donors, technical partners and civil society organizations, to take this document as a strategic guideline for effective implementation.

Routine immunization is a set of inoculations, given to children from birth to the age of 15 months. Completing the schedule protects them from 12 diseases that are preventable through vaccines, such as tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, haemophilus influenza type B, hepatitis B, diarrhoea, pneumonia, typhoid, measles and the recently added rubella.

The entire course is provided free of cost by the government’s Immunization Programme with support from global and technical partners, such as Gavi, the Vaccines Alliance, the WHO and UNICEF.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is extremely proud to have supported Pakistan’s historic and successful MR/OPV campaign, which reached more than 93 million children nationwide.  Through this campaign, Pakistan has protected an entire generation from Rubella and Measles, and strengthened OPV coverage across the country, Alexa Reynolds Senior Country Manager Gavi the Vaccine Alliance was addressing the gathering.

This massive effort was undertaken in the midst of Pakistan’s covid pandemic response, highlighting the incredible commitment of Pakistan’s leadership to the important goal of protecting the population from vaccine-preventable diseases.  Under the expert leadership of the Federal and provincial EPI and Polio Eradication teams, and with the incredible support of partners including WHO, UNICEF, and a wide variety of Pakistani organizations, countless children were identified and reached through this campaign, creating an opportunity for those children to remain connected to immunization services, and to benefit from the full package of routine immunization going forward.  Gavi remains committed to partnership with Pakistan, and to supporting the immunization programme’s ambitious goals in coming years.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Palitha Mahipala, WHO Representative in Pakistan said, “it is indeed a time to cherish our success, but it is also a moment of reflection and plan ahead. We have a long way to go to reach the unreached by strengthening the routine immunization coverage, reaching the highly risked pockets to protect people, particularly children, from all diseases”.

WHO works with countries to raise awareness of the value of Immunization and ensures that governments obtain the necessary guidance and technical support to achieve Universal Immunization Coverage, Said Dr Palitha

The significance of immunization against communicable diseases, a basic right of every newborn, cannot be overemphasized as it is an essential step towards realizing the befitting theme for this year “Long Life for All”. Protecting children against all kinds of diseases is an act of love and duty of care for every parent. It is the highest commitment of a nation for its future generations to try and ensure that every child survives and thrives, no matter who they are or where they are.  Under the leadership of the Ministry of health, we will continue to contribute towards the global eradication of polio and elimination of measles, tetanus and other vaccine-preventable diseases.( Aida Girma UNICEF representative) The ceremony ended with the Federal Directorate of Immunization acknowledging the efforts of the front line workers during the Measles-Rubella Campaign 2021 by presenting them with a shield as a token of “the hard work, dedication and commitment of all our heroes.”