Community needs to be educated to seek antenatal and childhood vaccination–Dr. Rozina Farhad Mistry


 Workshop on Evidence Based Advocacy by CHIP

Community needs to be educated to
seek antenatal and childhood
vaccination–Dr. Rozina Farhad Mistry

Pneumonia and Rota Virus are the major
problems which we are facing at present


By Mubarak Ali

KARACHI. Evidence based advocacy for vaccination is need of the hour and Civil Society organizations can play very important role in this regard. Civil Society is eyes and ears of any program, they should not be a silent spectator. This was stated by Dr Rozina Farhad Mistry, who has been working with Aga Khan Health Services, while conducting a workshop to impart training on research-based advocacy for immunization. The workshop was organized by the Civil Society Human and Institutional Development Programme (CHIP) at a local hotel recently. Workshop was attended by members of Civil Society Organizations working in health sectors and journalists of print and electronic media from Sindh Province.
During the three day workshop Dr. Rozina presented the critical review of immunization performance in Pakistan, discussed the various meanings of advocacy , concepts and tools, various steps for advocacy planning, objective settings, identification of allies for advocacy strategy and targets besides techniques to deal with opposition and survival techniques, identification of resources, development of plan and communication tools.
Mr. Awab-us-Sibtain, Manager Monitoring and Evaluation of CHIP in his introductory remarks said that idea of this workshop was to sensitize and mobilize journalist and media personnel about writing on importance of vaccination and mother child health care. GAVI which is a Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization is the largest organization providing immunization coverage all over the World .It has selected seven countries in this program. Pakistan started this program in July 2012 and had achieved milestones in six months. We are trying to form an alliance of CSOs so that we can work with Government of Pakistan. In the province of Sindh we are trying to find out in high risk districts the CSOs which are working in health sector so that they can be strengthened. We are working for research based advocacy and create awareness for Communities about their role in ensuring quality of immunization campaign on ground and on advocating importance of engagement of CSOs in policy making and strengthening of health system in Pakistan.
Speaking at the occasion Dr Rozina Mistry said that vaccination issues were the tip of the health iceberg in the country and without thinking of any genuine surveillance, quality of various health drives could not be ensured. There was a dire need to educate the communities about the importance of seeking antenatal and childhood vaccinations. Pneumonia and Rota Virus are major problem we are facing. Diphtheria is coming back while lot of resources have been spent on Tetanus but it is still a challenge for us. In 1988 one hundred twenty five countries were suffering from Polio and now only three countries Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria has the polio cases. Child mortality has come down but in spite of vaccination we are still facing problems, she added.
Dr. Rozina Mistry informed that according to the UNICEF data in October 2012, it was estimated that immunization can avert two to three million deaths from vaccines preventable diseases such as measles, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus. Protective immunization is one of the most important effective and preventable goals available in medicine. Immunization is the greatest single health advances for the children. Sindh has been reporting Polio cases from Karachi followed by at least five cases from other rural areas of Sindh.
Talking about advocacy in the health sector, she said that system needs to be developed for data analysis, one should always investigate and then conclude and never rely on one source. Lack of reliable health data had not only disabled the health monitoring and surveillance bodies but also turned the relevant advocacy efforts meaningless. There is a dire need to ensure an independent and robust core data source in the public health sector. Evidence based advocacy is an approach to advocacy which is grounded in data and information, she added. In order to develop a good advocacy campaign, it is important to develop solutions with aims and specific, measurable, appropriate, realistic and time bound (SMART) objectives. After developing SMART objectives, the next step is to identify your target audience for advocacy and policy mapping tools can be used. Advocacy is a very stressful and often a long exercise. It is essential that advocates continue to show their impact by plans for small wins, keeping it simple, be opportunistic and creative and to be passionate and persistent, she added.
During discussion it was pointed out that data collected or provided by the non-governmental surveys or government agencies shows considerable variations which practically hindered the organizations to conduct any evidence-based advocacy most of the time. A big difference was pointed out between the data based on mothers recall and vaccination cards. Data based on vaccination cards in possession of the mothers or their families showed one hundred to one hundred fifty per cent less than what was mentioned in the recall data. It shows that card system needed arrangements for getting a real time vaccination record of children through some mechanism by concerned authorities. This interactive workshop was very useful for the participants which will help them to play their role for vaccination advocacy effectively.