PESHAWAR - To review the routine immunization status in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), the two-day meeting concluded here at Fata Secretariat on Friday.

The meeting for annual review of routine EPI program was held, wherein immunization status in Fata was evaluated and flash points were deliberated upon.  All the agency surgeons made their presentations on their respective area status and presented facts and figures to the review panel on the occasion.

Review meeting was chaired by Director Health Services Fata Dr Zafeer Hussain. He advised agency surgeons to ramp up immunization activities, improve coordination, timely request for resources, ensure optimal use of resources and be pre-emptive while planning for coverage of their respective regions.

He said that the review of routine immunization will now be conducted biannually. He directed the agency lead officers to plan for and ensure routine immunization to TDPs while in the process of repatriation. He also directed to coordinate for functionalizing mobile teams in Shaktoi, Mandao and Bobar areas, recently de-notified by the government.

In response to deficiency of EPI technicians in Fata agencies & frontier regions, Director Health Services FATA Dr Zafeer Hussain made a policy decision that paramedics (who are multipurpose) and malaria supervisors shall be engaged in provision of routine immunization services.

He directed that in addition to managers and technical staff trainings in upcoming months, Lady Health Workers (LHWs) will be trained for six months to bring them in as a part of EPI program, whereas it will be piloted in the Kurram Agency.  He also asked partners (UNICEF, WHO & BMGF) to step up the synergy process of PEI with EPI. Technical Focal Person EOC FATA Dr Nadeem Jan highlighted need for synergizing Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) and its resources with EPI.

He suggested that synergy should be at every level since PEI has already had institutional support from high ranking political and military hierarchy, as well as organizational structure at the grass root level, which should be utilized for EPI efficacy that is currently lacking the impetus needed to meet high demand exists among communities.

Deputy Director Monitoring & Evaluation Federal EPI Asad Ali, attending the occasion, said Federal EPI is ready to support enhanced routine immunization activities in Fata and FRs. Assistant Director EPI Dr Sahibzada Khalid stated that Vaccine Preventable Disease (VPD) Surveillance Workshops have been planned by WHO and officers/officials of FATA will be called for the training soon.

He further added that all the EPI coordinators have been directed to submit resource deficiencies within a week time to cope without wastage of further time.

Team Lead FATA UNICEF Dr Abdul Qayum, Immunization Officer EPI UNICEF Dr Kamran Qureshi, Team Leader WHO Dr Hamid Momand, National Coordinator WHO Dr Sarfaraz Afridi and Agency Surgeons of FATA and FRs also participated in the review meeting.