The World Immunisation Week was celebrated globally from April 21-28, 2012 to enhance awareness of the benefits of vaccination. Immunisation is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions. The Pakistan Medical Association in 2011 estimated that 400,000 children in Pakistan die within the first year of life. The overall figure for deaths due to vaccine preventable diseases in Pakistan may well be substantially higher as they estimated that one child dies every minute from vaccine preventable diseases. Pakistan has also suffered immensely by a historically inadequate healthcare budget. A report by the Pakistan Medical Association revealed that only 0.23 percent of the GDP was spent on healthcare during the fiscal year 2011-12. Thus, the economic burden on families who require hospital treatment for vaccine preventable diseases is very high and this becomes more apparent given the vast social disparities in our country. In addition, Pakistan is one of the three countries in the world still struggling to eradicate Polio, a vaccine preventable disease. Furthermore, the vaccination coverage for routine vaccines given under the Expanded Programme on Immunisation is as low as 30 percent in some districts. There are other childhood diseases that could be prevented with effective vaccines too. Investment in healthcare is a significant factor in the overall national development of any country. While our governments have consistently failed to invest in health, we as responsible citizens must also play a more proactive role to contain the problem at hand. Various global occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day receive widespread media coverage but the same cannot be said for the Immunisation Week.

We urge all readers to take active steps to raise awareness at individual and community level for immunisation. Children are our future. We hope they are provided a fighting chance through immunisation, which is a fundamental right of all Pakistani children.

TRUST FOR VACCINES AND IMMUNISATION,

Karachi, May 2.