Islamabad: (Parliament Times) In an important development for Pakistan, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization has called for other developing nations receiving support from the alliance to follow the Pakistan model to reform and upscale immunization services in their respective countries.
The GAVI board met in Geneva to review progress where Pakistan was the only country selected among 78 countries receiving support of the global body, to present its case study on how a turnaround was effected in ensuring financial sustainability and systems strengthening to upscale immunization services in the country.
Director General Health Dr. Assad Hafeez representing Pakistan at the GAVI board meeting made a detailed presentation before the global forum. The board decided to document case study of the turnaround in Pakistan in the last 3 years and share with developing nations eligible for GAVI support so they can adopt the best practices to improve their country vaccination programs. The global forum appreciated the political commitment in Pakistan at the federal and provincial levels for prioritizing and reforming immunization services in the country. A special mention was made in the board meeting of Pakistan Health Minister Saira Afzal Tarar and Secretary Health Muhammad Ayub Shaikh for their leadership in steering the reform process in Pakistan and advocating strongly with the provinces to elicit their support in improving vaccination services.
Director General Health Dr. Assad Hafeez shared how the country was able to implement the National Immunization Support Program through an innovative model of Multi-donor Trust Fund managed by the World Bank. The country was able to ensure uninterrupted supply of vaccines and save substantial costs through pool procurement of vaccines agreed among the federal government and all provinces. A complete overhaul of the vaccine supply and management was done in record time. ISO 9001 certification was achieved for the central warehousing for the very first time and 19 new and refurbished warehouse were established, he added. Technological innovations like E-vaccs and Cold Chain Optimization platform have been introduced successfully to improve storage, supply and delivery of immunization services across the country he said. For financial sustainability of the program across Pakistan we are moving from project mode to recurrent budget so that allocations for immunization program are reflected in regular annual budgets. The program was working closely with the Polio Eradication Initiative and leveraging its assets to enhance routine immunization coverage including sharing of micro-plans and identification of zero dose children, the Director General Health told the GAVI board.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization is an international organization bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the developing countries. The alliance supports 78 countries across the world. Pakistan is the largest recipient of support by the organization. Pakistan is a member of the prestigious GAVI board that meets quarterly under the chair of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala a former Finance Minister of Nigeria