GAVI Global Chief meets Health Minister Saira Afzal Tarar commits 825 million US Dollars for child immunization

February 19, 2015

 Islamabad, February 19, 2015 :-  A high level delegation led by Chief Executive Officer of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization Dr. Seth Berkeley and Dr. Ala Alwan Regional Director, World Health Organization met the Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar here today. Secretary Ministry of National Health Muhammad Ayub Sheikh was also present on the occasion.   The high level delegation included global and regional leaderships of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, USAID, Department for International Development (DFID) UK, World Bank, and Islamic Development Bank, Saudi Arabia.   The Minister on the occasion shared that third party evaluation of the polio program has been initiated. The same monitoring mechanism will be instituted for routine EPI, she said. Lady Health Workers were being trained to deliver all EPI vaccines which will give a major boost to routine EPI coverage as there are over 100,000 Lady Health Workers with access into homes and trust of the communities, said the Minister. She pledged that soon the international partners will see a sea-change in the situation in terms of health indications.     Chief Executive Officer of GAVI Dr. Berkeley informed the Minister that Pakistan was the world’s largest recipient of support from Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization as the organization has committed 825 Million US Dollar support to strengthen immunization services and health systems in Pakistan. The support will be available for the next five years period till the year 2020.   He emphasized that strengthening Routine Immunization for children was critical to saving lives and an integral part of the strategy to eradicate Polio.   He pointed out that 2.7 Million children in Pakistan were not being accessed by vaccine against nine preventable diseases for which efforts are required to effect a change in the situation.    Regional Director WHO, Dr. Ala Alwan pointing to the seriousness of the issue said there was need to address issues of staffing, capacity, financing and management in delivery of immunization services.   President Global Development, Bill Gates Foundation Dr. Chris Elias said his foundation was pleased to support to support Pakistan’s polio eradication effort.   He said, he was impressed by establishment of emergency Operation Centers for Polio Eradication at the federal and provincial levels with effective monitoring and coordination capacities.       Speaking on the occasion UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta reiterated her organization support to protecting the health of children and mothers in Pakistan.   Secretary National Health Services Muhammad Ayub Sheikh said we are mindful of the challenges and have taken the right course to achieving our targets. The roles of the federation and provinces were being defined in the context of the post devolution scenario and strengthening sustainability of immunization services, he said.