KARACHI:Karachi’s slum areas house nearly half of the city’s population. The living conditions in these areas are challenging, with cramped spaces and limited access to clean water, sanitation, and healthcare facilities. In eight union councils, namely Ittehad Town, Gujro, Songal, Manghopir, Chishti Nagar, Islamia Colony, Muzaffarabad, and Muslimabad, which are referred to as disease hotspot areas, routine immunization coverage is particularly low among children less than two years.
A public- private partnership led by Vital Pakistan Trust and SINA Health, Education and Welfare Trust has launched an immunization project to improve immunization coverage in targeted disease hotspot areas and other high-risk urban slums. During the last year and a half, the partnership has facilitated the immunization of over 100,000 children, which is a remarkable feat considering the challenges on ground.
To reduce access barriers, the partnership has placed full-time female vaccinators at partner clinics in slums throughout six districts of the Karachi division and arranged transport services for families with children under the age of two.
Sindh Minister of Health and Population Welfare Dr Azra Pechuho praised the partnerships immunization project and emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships to improve access to maternal and child health services. “It’s unfortunate that we still have immunization access issues and maternal deaths. We all need to work together for mother and child health. We need to institutionalize deliveries, giving the best quality maternal care to all women who need it,” she said while addressing an event titled “Vital Victory” to celebrate the achievement of 100,000 child immunizations.
“There has been increasing recognition globally that greater collaboration between government and civil society organizations is critical to improving coverage of routine immunization. We will continue to collaborate with the government and expand our immunization campaign to reach out to more children,” said Dr Imran Nisar, Chairman of the Board of Vital Pakistan Trust.
Akbar Jamal Rajani, CEO, and Dr Rakhshanda Ishaque, Senior Technical Lead at Vital Pakistan Trust, and Dr Naseeruddin Mehmood, Trustee, and Ambareen Thompson, CEO SINA, appreciated the efforts of the immunization team comprising of 300 health workers that include vaccinators working in the slum areas.
The event was attended by Sindh Government officials, including Parliamentary Secretary Qasim Siraj Soomro, and Dr Irshad Memon, Director of the Expanded Programme on Immunization as well as Dr. Shershah Syed, known for his work in Obstetrics, Gynaecology and maternal health.