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June 24, 2021

Better strategies pivotal for expansion of vaccine coverage

 
June 24, 2021

Islamabad : The development of better communication strategies, timely response, and effective decision-making can play a pivotal role in overcoming issues such as risk perception, gender bias, and challenges related to expansion of COVID-19 vaccination coverage in Pakistan.

A consensus to this effect emerged at an international consultative meeting on ‘COVID-19 Vaccine: Strategies and Policies for Extending Coverage’ here on Wednesday. The event was organized by the Health and Population Think Tank (HPTT) of the Health Services Academy and had the PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan and Parliamentary Secretary for Health Dr. Nausheen Hamid as the chief guests.

Dr. Faisal affirmed his commitment to extend vaccine coverage to entire target population, address challenges related to gender bias, and ensure timely availability of COVID-19 vaccine across the country. Dr. Nausheen highlighted the steps taken by government to address vaccine coverage issues. She made a special mention of WHO’s recognition of Pakistan’s response to Covid-19, and its suggestion that the same be followed by other countries battling the pandemic.

The meeting was attended by leadership of the federal and provincial health departments, federal and provincial extended preventive immunization, National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), Vice Chancellors of public and private sector universities, and technical experts from the University of Manitoba, Canada, among others.

International experts on COVID-19 vaccine from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided technical input related to challenges on extending COVID-19 vaccine coverage. A detailed discussion was held on better management of adverse events following immunization, indigenous vaccine production of COVID-19 vaccine, gender bias and social issues related to the vaccine.

Dr. Yasmeen Qazi, Representative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Pakistan, discussed gender bias issues on vaccine coverage and their potential solution. Existing challenges and solutions related to COVID-19 vaccine adverse events following immunization, vaccine distribution and logistics were briefed by the National EPI Manager. The Executive Director of NIH talked about Covid vaccine production and clinical trials held in Pakistan.

The Vice Chancellor of HSA Dr. Shahzad Ali Khan apprised the participants of progress on strengthening capacity building essential for extending vaccine coverage and implementation and operational research to resolve on-ground challenges.