LAHORE – Special Assistant to Punjab Chief Minister on Health Khawaja Salman Rafiq on Tuesday urged all stakeholders to diligently perform their duties, and also control other diseases with the same zeal and enthusiasm with which they worked as a team to control the dengue menace.

Addressing an advocacy seminar on ‘Pneumococcal Vaccine Included in Routine Immunisation Course’, Salman said that negligence of duties was a major problem in Pakistan though the country had enormous resources.

“The officials concerned should realise that by ensuring vaccination to children they are saving precious lives,” he maintained. Salman also stressed surveillance and strict monitoring, as was done during the anti-dengue campaign, to ensure success of routine immunisation.

Punjab EPI Director Dr Tanvir Ahmed informed that Gavi had provided $600 million to the government for provision of pneumococcal vaccine. He said it was an expensive vaccine whose single doze cost approximately Rs4,000 with three dozes needed for one child.

“Earlier, only the rich used to get their children vaccinated but now the government has also provided this facility to the poor,” he added. Dr Ahmed also pointed out that every year approximately 30,000 children died of pneumonia in Pakistan, of which almost one-half were in Punjab.

Renowned pediatrician Dr Tariq Bhutta informed that despite availability of resources, Pakistan was behind other countries in the South Asian region such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Dr Tariq Bhutta said that death of 30,000 children because of pneumonia on annual basis was nothing short of a criminal negligence.

Dr Tariq Bhutta stressed the need for social mobilisation to introduce pneumococcal vaccine and reduce the child mortality rate.