Punjab has made tremendous progress in children immunization achieving 79.18% coverage-Prof. Zulfiqar Bhutta

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SMDC’s 4th International Conference-III
Punjab has made tremendous progress in
children immunization achieving 79.18%
coverage-Prof. Zulfiqar Bhutta
We must use GPs, involve community, and mobilize 
indigenous resources to stand on our own feet

LAHORE: Dr. Asim Yusuf along with Prof. Tahir Masood chaired the session wherein three State of the Art lectures were presented by invited guest speakers during the 4th International Conference of Shalamar Medical & Dental College Lahore held from 1-2nd February 2020. Prof. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta was the first speaker who talked about “Immunizations: Issues in Pakistan and our experience of making a difference”.

Prof. Zulfiqar Bhutta pointed out that we were supposed to achieve child mortality of 40/1000 live births which at present stands at 75/1000 live births which is far away. The rate of reduction in mortality has been 1% per annum. Most of the mortality is related to preventable diseases like diarrhoea 23%, Pneumonia 22%, Meningitis 8% and sepsis etc. We did all this without any new vaccines which was not a mean achievement. Immunization coverage stands at 50-60% in all districts and there has been progress as regards full immunization with all vaccines in first year of life. The coverage was good in the province of Punjab which achieved 62% coverage but the province of KPK; Sindh and Baluchistan have remained behind. It Sindh it was 29%, Baluchistan 22.5% and in KPK it was 49%.

Mr. Shahid Hussain Chairman Board of Governors of SIHS presenting Mementoes to from
(L to R) Prof. Zulfiqar Bhutta, Dr. Jeffrey Yen Lin, Dr. Laura Dawn Sander the invited
keynote speakers in the first plenary session during 4th Int. Conference of SMDC held
recently. On extreme right Prof. Tahir Masood who chaired the session is being presented
memento by Mr. Shahid Hussain alongwith Prof. Zahid Bashir Principal of SMDC.

Continuing Prof. Bhutta said that after devolution of health as a provincial subject, Punjab has made tremendous progress in child immunization achieving a figure of 79.18% whereas the figures for Sindh were 48%, KPK 54% and Baluchistan 28%. He then discussed the zero dose child figures for Baluchistan, shared the details of community outreach programme, involvement of religious leaders and community leaders. With the availability of injectable polio vaccine we achieved the figure of 88% and reduction in zero immunization was also achieved. In our initiative we targeted the high risk union councils. Since GAVI support will go away, we have to arrange self finance programmes. For this we need to invest at more indigenous programmes of immunization. He concluded his presentation by stating that good governance in Punjab helped achieve better results in child immunization. We need to involve the GPs in these efforts besides involving the community, reduce refusal of immunization by people, and mobilize indigenous resources. We have to stand on our own feet. We need to have our national priorities which are ethical responsibility of government and we must talk about accessible solutions.

Dr. Jeffrey Yen Lin from John Hopkins Medical School USA was the next speaker. His presentation was on Women’s Health in Pakistan. He discussed various measures whereby they can collaborate in improving women’s health in Pakistan. He also discussed the role of women in healthcare, having women in leadership role. The gender gap in leadership in Pakistan. We need to improve education in women. He was of the view that Pakistan need to put more women in leadership role who are qualified. Lady Health Workers programme was started in Pakistan in 1993 to improve primary health care. He also referred to violence against women and girls in Pakistan. He discussed the functioning of Women’s Health Center at John Hopkins, physician’s engagement, start of new clinical services for women. He was of the view that women often drive healthcare of the whole family. Women health issues should get priority. There is strong link between education and health, socio economic situation, early marriages and society violence against women, he added.

Dr. Laura Dawn Sander talked about Intersection of Primary Care and Population Health. He discussed in detail how we can provide best healthcare for our patients. It was in 1978 at the ALMATA declaration had called for promotion of primary health care. It was a team based collaborative care approach. We need to work together as a team. She laid emphasis on counseling and education. It is almost 80% factors which affect health which are outside healthcare systems. It is the primary care of population which improve healthcare, she remarked.

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