Karachi, February 20, 2018 - Students can play a pivotal role in sensitizing the communities about importance of polio vaccination and help raise awareness among parents to proactively seek immunization for every child under five years of age, said Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, Chancellor of the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST).

In her keynote address at a sensitization workshop organized by the by Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) for Polio Eradication, at SZABIST auditorium, the Chancellor thanked the EOC for holding this event at the institute. “We all have a role to play in polio eradication and we encourage students to gain this experience. Certainly, students should look forward to internships with EOC Sindh and that SZABIST fully supports this idea,” said Dr. Azra.

Senior Advisor to the EOC, Keith Feldon, informed the participants that Pakistan and Afghanistan are now only 2 countries in the world that are still polio endemic, yet there are grounds for optimism. “Pakistan is in the best position it has ever been to eradicate polio; we have a historically low case count while environment samples have also started to clear up which gives us a golden opportunity to finish the job,” he said.


Fatima Fraz, Communication for Development Specialist Sindh spoke updated the students about the communication strategies employed by the programme to raise demand of vaccination among communities. She presented interactive communication tools and mapping of refusal families in Karachi used to raise risk perception and sensitize communities about the poliovirus. “We have a robust system through which we can locate and know the nature of refusals which has helped us come up with strategies to address their concerns and reach children with the vaccine.”


Media Officer EOC Sindh, Abid Hasan spoke about the important role of students in raising awareness among their communities through volunteering at hospital kiosks during campaigns. He also asked the ZSABIST faculty to consider supporting opportunities for students’ engagement such as including field visits of polio campaigns internships. “We need two drops of the vaccine to be given to every child under 5 years of age at each vaccination campaign to help in sensitizing friends and family members about the dangers of polio,” he said.


Dr. Shoukat Ali Team Lead for Polio Sindh emphasized the importance of repeated vaccination. He said that “if all of us play our part and ensure that our children and those in our neighborhood get vaccinated every time the vaccine is offered during campaigns, we can completely eradicate polio from Pakistan very soon.”


Col. Shahid Siddiqui, security analyst at EOC Sindh briefed the participants about the effort of the government to provide secure environment to frontline health workers in the field. A detailed question and answer session ensued where student queries regarding polio eradication programme and vaccine efficacy were responded to by Dr. Shoukat Ali, Keith Feldon and Chancellor SZABIST University Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho.


The students were given an email address (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to volunteer for social mobilization at the kiosks set up at private hospitals during campaign days. Emails have already started pouring in and the first batch of SZABIST students will be deployed in the

upcoming campaign in Karachi. These students will be provided a certificate of experience by the provincial EOC to acknowledge their services in a national cause.