ISLAMABAD  - The directorate of health services, Capital Development Authority (CDA), held a Vaccinator Convention on Saturday in collaboration of ministry of national health services, regulation and coordination with an objective to acknowledge the services of vaccinators of the country and listen to their difficulties in course of their duties.

The vaccinators working for both expanded programme of immunisation and anti-polio drives expressed their concern over meagre honorarium for the vaccination campaigns, absence of any service structure and lack of compensation policy in case of deaths.

"Vaccinators are the frontline workers of this programme. They risk their lives to save lives in Pakistan for a few hundreds rupees and in case of killings there is no compensation policy for them. At least one child of each deceased victim should be given government job," said Tariq Mehmood, one of the representatives of the vaccinators.

"We are proud of our vaccinators as they are the change catalyst of our society and they are not only providing immunisation services but are also educating the community about the importance of the immunisation services in the country," said Saira Afzal Tarar, minister for national health services, regulations & coordination, addressing the vaccinators.

She stressed the need for practical work for ensuring 100 per cent coverage of vaccination in the country.

"Vaccinators are frontline force of the EPI programme and we cannot achieve any success without their support," she said.

Immunisation is the most cost-effective public health intervention that has had the greatest impact on health of the people, she said. Every year millions of children around the globe are saved from illness or death because of vaccines.

"The role of vaccinators and lady health workers is vital in a sense as they represent the community and they have access where we cannot go. The federal government provides 100 per cent vaccine to provinces to ensure 100 per cent results but this vaccine reaches out to 58 per cent children only. This situation has great concern for us so we are formulating a monitoring system to check issues regarding coverage of vaccine," she said.

The minister said that in order to ensure transparency in vaccination strict monitoring and audit of quarterly funds would be done before issuing the next quarterly funds. She announced to launch a national immunisation campaign against measles in the country to control its outbreak. In this regard the first phase will be started in Sindh from May 19, which will continue for 12 days.

Earlier, Chief Commissioner Islamabad Jawad Paul addressed the convention and assured his support in solving service structure.

Director Health Services CDA Dr Hasan Orooj in his remarks stressed upon strengthening of EPI coverage through community participation.

National Programme Manager Dr Ejaz Ahmed Khan briefed the gathering about status of EPI in Pakistan and role of vaccinators in enhancing its coverage.

The convention ended with inauguration of vaccination camp at the directorate of health services, which will facilitate parents to vaccinate their children.

The World Immunisation Week is observed every year in the last week of April with an objective to underline the significance of immunisation services for children around the globe. This year World Immunisation Week is being celebrated with the theme of "Are you up-to-date?"

In Pakistan, efforts are being carried out to highlight the importance of EPI and encourage the public in general and parents in particular to vaccinate their children against nine vaccine preventable diseases during the week and afterwards.