ISLAMABAD: Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) signed a landmark agreement for immunisation of BISP beneficiaries in Gilgit-Baltistan region.
The partnership is expected to directly assist 5,000 BISP beneficiaries and 9,000 children in four districts of GB. The beneficiaries will be immunised and incentivised for their participation under a new grant from World Bank (WB), amounting to US$3.5 million.
The decision was taken at a meeting jointly chaired by Federal Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar and BISP Chairperson MNA Marvi Memon.
Saira Afzal said that EPI programme had achieved several milestones on the supply-side with regards to the provision of immunisation services, but the demand still required more miles to go for enhancing the routine immunisation coverage.
In this context, she said that interventions like conditional cash transfer (CCT) would help to increase the demand for routine immunisation among the people, particularly the poor segments of the population in Pakistan. She further highlighted that in the wake of the recent polio case reported from Diamir district in 2017, based on site readiness assessment and analysis of immunisation data, the GB region was selected for piloting the CCT initiative.
Speaking on the occasion, Marvi Memon said that “this is the second conditional cash transfer programme being launched by BISP”. She added that the social mobilisation programme of Waseela-e- Taleem initiative was launched in five districts initially to pilot it, and it has been extended to 50 districts across Pakistan.
She hoped that this programme will be able to extend to other regions on the success of its pilot phase.
The evidence from across the globe suggests that schemes like CCTs improve uptake of health services like immunisation among poorest of the poor communities.
The purpose of the agreement is to increase the uptake of immunisation among the underprivileged pregnant mothers and children between 0-23 months in selected districts through a conditional cash transfer programme. Initially, the scope of the project shall be limited to Gilgit-Baltistan.
The activities under this partnership include necessary training and drills for skill development to EPI and BISP staff on EPI’s immunisation services, delivery of quality immunisation services, in particular availability of relevant vaccines, trained EPI staff and equipment to ensure effective cold chain.
The partnership will also focus on the implementation of the environmental and social management plan (ESMP), particularly infection control and waste management protocols. It will also involve training to the relevant staff for ESMP implementation.
According to this partnership, BISP will identify possible beneficiaries that satisfy the ‘eligibility criteria’ through the national socio-economic registry. It will also mobilise beneficiaries systematically, in coordination with EPI.
It will also include awareness of BISP beneficiary committees to involve the beneficiaries at the grassroots level. The activities will include enrolment, compliance monitoring and verification of the process.
Moreover, grievance redressal and case management mechanisms will be set-up at the designated centres for services related complaints and appeals.
The partnership will also lead to development and maintenance of the management information systems (MIS) including the monitoring and reporting framework for the project. This includes populating the MIS and maintaining beneficiary lists.
It will also include electronically recorded required data for immunisation record.
On the occasion, BISP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan said that the initiative defined the multidimensional efforts being undertaken for supporting rural and poverty struck communities. He also hoped that the new CCT programme will assist the government in achieving the global SDGs of health and provide immunisation to the communities who need it the most and reside in the farthest areas of the country.