Pakistan tops the global efforts of TCV inclusion in the routine immunization system
Sana Tariq Gill
On February 4, 2021, the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Lahore Teaching Hospital (ULTH) in collaboration with UNICEF arranged advocacy seminar on “Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TCV) 2021 campaign” that was launched by the Health Department of Punjab between February 1st and 15th, 2021.
Dr. Bashir Ahmad Siddique (Director Health Services, Expanded Programme on Immunization—EPI) was the chief guest of the seminar. Other guests included Dr. Tahir Manzoor (Health Specialist, UNICEF Punjab), Dr. Mahwish Arooj (Principal, University College of Medicine) and Dr. Zahid Pervaiz (MS, ULTH).
This informative seminar was attended among others by Dr. Farukh Iqbal (HoD Medicine), Prof. Dr. Atif Husnain Kazmi (HoD, Dermatology), Prof. Munir Akhtar Saleemi (HoD, Community Medicine), Prof. Dr. Tahira Rizwan (HoD, Gynecology), Dr. Samina Malik (HoD, Physiology), officials from UNICEF and EPI, doctors and nurses from ULTH.
Prof. Dr. Ahsan Waheed Rathore (HoD Pediatrics) in his capacity as organizer and host thanked EPI, WHO and UNICEF for making ULTH a part of this campaign. “Given the huge numbers of students and staff, we are raising awareness to many people. We vaccinate between 70 and 80 individuals daily. Choosing us was really great”, he said.
He appreciated Government of Pakistan’s response towards the increased number of extensively drug resistant typhoid cases saying that according to WHO, more than 75 percent of the typhoid cases are extensively drug resistant. “Pakistan became the first country in the world to include this TCV in the routine immunization system and EPI can reduce the disease burden”, he further revealed.
While describing the key elements of the campaign, Dr. Rathore said: “A total of 20 million children will be vaccinated during phase 1 and phase 2 and this campaign is expected to ensure optimum heard immunity level. Previously, EPI has been providing protection against 10 diseases, but it is now going to cover 11 diseases”.
Dr. Mehwish Ijaz (Senior Registrar ULTH & Focal Person for UNICEF) gave a detailed presentation on typhoid, its causes and transmission, clinical features, signs and symptoms, complications, and treatment.
While explaining the epidemiology, she revealed that in 2015, 17 million typhoid and paratyphoid fever cases were registered at the global scale. She added that out of the 21 million people who contract typhoid annually, 161,000 end in fatality.
According to her, out of all of the 16 Asian countries where typhoid is prevalent, statistics from Pakistan indicate that the inhabitants of Punjab and Sindh are at high risk of contracting the disease.
Dr. Anum Tahir (Senior Registrar) presented on the prevention of typhoid through drinking safe water, adequate sanitation, appropriate management of waste water disposal, hand washing practice, using pasteurized or boiled milk and eating properly washed fruits and vegetables.
Dr.Tahir Manzoor (Chief of Health Section, UNICEF Punjab) talked about the basics of typhoid disease, its complications, characteristics and the ways of its diagnosis and fatality rate. He displayed the publicity material of the campaign which included 40,000 standees, 50,000 banners, 12 million leaflets, and 600,000 IEC material followed by pictorial images and documentary of the launch and its execution.
Dr. Pervaiz (Medical Superintendent) expressed happiness on the selection of ULTH amongst the private sector health facilities for this campaign and considered this initiative a big step forward for the future generations. He also assured full support to the drive.
The chief guest, Dr. Siddique who is leading TCV in Punjab under 10,000 vaccinators and hundreds of vaccination centers, appreciated Dr. Pervaiz and called him an institution of public health. He pointed out difficulties encountered during TCV campaign, thanked Allah and appreciated UNICEF’s role in conducting this timely campaign.
He singled out lack of cooperation from the local communities as one of the biggest challenge faced during this campaign. He reiterated the washing of hands and declared it as the safest way of preventing the common diseases in life.
The Principal UCM, Dr. Arooj thanked UNICEF, the government of Punjab EPI team for providing TCV vaccine free of cost and also pledged the UCM and ULTH support to the drive.
She appreciated the Department of Pediatrics for putting up such a great seminar. The seminar was sealed off by the distribution of shields that was followed by the cake cutting ceremony.