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> Compulsory Immunization Bill should be moved in Parliament and Provincial Assemblies: MPs believe

February 09, 2011

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Islamabad, February 09: In a PILDAT arranged Legislative Forum on Critical need to improve Immunization in Pakistan and the Compulsory Immunization Bill, Parliamentarians and MPAs believed that the draft compulsory Immunization Bill is a good initiative to make immunization compulsory for all in Pakistan and respective Governments should table this in the Parliament and Provincial Assemblies for review and adoption by legislators. Experts believed that to eradicate polio a nation- wide awareness campaign should be launched with effective participation of Parliamentarians and media.


The speakers at the PILDAT Legislative Forum included Chaudhry Anwar ul Haq, Speaker, Legislative Assembly of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan, MPA, Deputy Speaker Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, Mr. Zameen Khan, MPA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Founder President, Pakistan Health Policy Forum, Mr. Wazir Ahmed Jogezai, former Deputy Speaker National Assembly and Ms. Fozia Ejaz Khan, MNA and Vice President Parliamentary Caucus on Immunization in the National Assembly.


Chaudhry Anwar ul Haq said that AJK is polio free area because of the efforts of the AJK government towards ensuring maximum coverage of immunization. He said that polio day is celebrated in such spirit as Kashmir solidarity day celebrated in Pakistan. He said that People of FATA should be treated same as other citizen of the country. He believed that Compulsory Immunization Bill should be introduced and passed from Parliament and Provincial Assemblies as it is an important initiative to make immunization compulsory for all.


Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan, MPAbelieved that PILDAT should arrange a forum in polio hit area like interior Sindh and FATA and the public representatives will be willing to join in order to sensitise the people and to spread awareness. He said that in modern world legislation is mostly made on public demand, so compulsory immunization bill is a very good effort in this regard. He was of the opinion that coordination between Parliament and Provincial Assemblies should be enhanced for such legislation.


Dr. Sania Nishtar said that Pakistan is one of the only four countries in the world where polio still exists, and Pakistan is the only country where number of polio cases is rising as seen in 2010. In FATA and Interior Sindh polio cases have seen an increase in huge numbers which is a cause for concern.


Mr. Zameen Khan, MPA believed that compulsory immunization bill would be a good move as it will directly benefit poor people. He said that KPK is badly affected from polio and he assured that KPK Provincial Assembly will pass this bill once it introduced.


Ms. Fozia Ejaz Khan, MNA, stressed on the need for public representatives to take interest and work in their own areas to make immunization campaign successful. She believed that immunization teams are less paid and local government system is not working which is a cause of lack of success of campaigns. Media should run an effective awareness campaign, she believed.


Introducing the Session, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director PILDAT, said that PILDAT has facilitated the formation of Immunization Caucuses around 7 National and Provincial Legislatures in order to facilitate public representatives awareness and involvement into immunization campaigns. He said that the objective behind holding the discussion is to provoke a much-needed debate and discussion on the need to make immunization campaigns more effective in Pakistan. PILDAT has used the draft bill to kick start the discussion as a key tool and it is up to legislators to review the draft bill in detail before it is needed to be tabled or passed.