ISLAMABAD Parliamentarians from all major political parties represented in the Senate and National Assembly of Pakistan have agreed to initiate a multi-party Caucus of Parliamentarians to raise awareness about the significance of immunisation and the fatal consequences of not immunising children. The meeting of a select group of Senators and MNAs was hosted by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And Transparency - PILDAT to consider the proposal of forming such a caucus in view of the persistent discovery of polio cases in Pakistan and lingering misperceptions about the immunization programmes launched by the Government of Pakistan with the help of international donors. Parliamentary Secretary of Health, Mehreen Razzaq Bhutto briefed parliamentarians about the Expanded Programme on immunisation (EPI) and informed that each national campaign for polio eradication costs Rs.1b and no society could afford to allow such expensive campaigns to become ineffective. She emphasised that all parliamentarians, irrespective of their political affiliation, should come forward and help Pakistan achieve universal immunisation in Pakistan by 2015 as one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Earlier a presentation highlighted the vulnerability of 13 districts and tribal agencies to poliovirus and other diseases and indicated that 2008 had seen one of the highest incidences of 120 polio cases in Pakistan. Although the number of cases dropped to 93 in 2009 in 32 districts and tribal agencies, the vulnerability continues due to migration of population and unstable governance on account of insurgency in some districts and tribal agencies. The presentation also highlighted that misperceptions about immunisation persist in a certain section of the society due to lack of education and awareness and this leads to their non-cooperative attitude towards immunisation of their children. Executive Director-PILDAT, Ahmed Bilal Mehboob while giving the background of initiating a Parliamentary Caucus, said that the elected representatives can play a very effective role in the specific context of promoting Expanded Programme on immunization-EPI. He opined that the elected representatives of the people in the Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures can play a very important role in enhancing the understanding and participation of their communities in the EPI initiatives.