Islamabad, July 28, 2016: Today in a high powered Inter-agency Coordination Committee (ICC) meeting at the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Minister Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar shared with the participants that in compliance with the directives of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, polio infrastructure will be merged with EPI in coming months to strengthen Routine Immunization in the country. “Strengthening of Routine Immunization will be one of the main agenda in upcoming PM Focus Group Meeting” revealed Minister during her remarks at the ICC meeting. The ICC meeting was attended by Secretary, MoNHSRC, DG, MoNHSRC, Federal and provincial EPI managers and representatives of development partners.

Earlier, Dr. Saqlain Ahmed Gilani, National Program Manager, EPI briefed the ICC members on the objectives and recommendations of the Joint Appraisal Mission. The Joint Appraisal Mission to review the progress of Federal and Provincial EPI programs is currently visiting the country. Dr. Saqlain Ahmed Gilani apprised the meeting that the main objective of the visit was to review, analyse, and identify challenges within in the Routine Immunization program and to set recommendations for improvement. The Mission visited all four provinces and held meetings with all relevant stakeholders.

The Joint Appraisal Mission comprised of international health experts from development partner agencies including GAVI, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, World Bank, WHO, USAID and DFID. The Representative of Joint Appraisal Mission appreciated the commitment of leadership to strengthen and improve the Routine Immunization systems in the country both at federal and provincial level.

Joint Appraisal Mission further stressed the federal and Provincial EPI departments to create and finalize annual workplans so that to evaluate progress in a systemic way. Highlighting the need to increase synergy between EPI and Polio, joint Mission recommended strengthening the linkages and interactions between EPI and PEI program for joint planning, implementation and improvement of Routine Immunization services in the country. Engagement with communities and context specific innovations in communities was also underscored as a priority area. Members of the Joint Mission shared their concern over week surveillance system in the country and emphasized on its improvement. Need of trained EPI staff and human resource was also highlighted.

During the ICC meeting, provincial EPI managers also presented their progress on the PC-1 for EPI programs. EPI Manager from Balochistan appreciated the support and commitment of the Federal Government in prioritizing the needs of the Balochistan. EPI Managers from Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also shared their status of their respective PCs-1. EPI Manager Punjab shared their preparedness to introduce Rotavirus in the Routine Immunization this year.