Students movement against childhood diseases launched

Karachi: Assistant Professor, Community Health Sciences, Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), Dr M Khalid Shafi, on Wednesday said that World Health Organization(WHO) estimates that 2.5 million children under 5-year of age die from vaccine preventable diseases every year in the world.

He expressed these views while addressing an introductory seminar on “Students Movement against Childhood Diseases (SMACD)”, held at DUHS Karachi aiming at reducing illness, disability and mortality from childhood diseases by immunization. 

He said incidence of polio that has been eradicated since 1988 is by 99 percent and a dramatic reduction has been achieved in diseases such as measles, diphtheria, pertusis, tetanus and hepatitis B. Immunization is the most cost effective intervention known. Improvement in coverage of current vaccines and inclusion of newer vaccines like Rota Virus and Pneumococcal disease will reduce the infant mortality for the achievement of the MDG4.

Shafi further said that SMACD campaign has been designed exclusively for university level students where they can play a pivotal role in strengthening the future generations of Pakistan. The campaign has been initiated because Pakistani children are being threatened by these diseases due to lack of knowledge and information, myths and misconceptions. The project aims at reducing misperceptions and building trust amongst the general public about vaccinations.

The project will include student mobilization within the university through seminars, establishing information desks by the volunteers at the university and other events where the SMACD message can be communicated to the public; awareness raising through traditional and social media platforms; each volunteer will distribute the campaign literature to maximum number of family & friends and conduct a survey to find out the perception about immunization of children, he added.

Vice Chancellor, DHUS Prof Muhammad Umer Farooq, said: “We are very proud to be associated with a programme which aims at preventing infant mortality by creating awareness.” DUHS organizes awareness programmes regularly as our objective is to not just produce doctors but doctors who will work in eliminating the menace which causes disability and mortality.

“I call upon the students to participate in such activities which are good for the community and also would give them experience in interacting with the people to promote preventive medicine.”

Dr Asif Aslam of EPI said that the overall goal of the Sindh EPI was to decrease Vaccine Preventable Diseases associated morbidity and mortality in the province of Sindh. The goals of the program are to decrease in the Sindh province, by 2018: Due to all the facility available, we are poor immunization coverage.

The seminar was organized by DUHS in collaboration UNICEF and Mediators inviting volunteer students from DUHS to participate in the advocacy and awareness raising programme i.e. SMACD. This movement started with the objective of increasing awareness about preventable childhood diseases through immunization thereby reducing disability and mortality.

The campaign will create awareness about the vaccinations for diseases included in the Government’s Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) like Poliomyelitis, Neonatal Tetanus, Measles, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Hepatitis-B, Hib Pneumonia, Meningitis and Childhood Tuberculosis.

The seminar was attended by Dr Asif Aslam, Health & Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Sindh and Dr Salah Mohamed Tumsah.   

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