News Flash 567: Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

News Flash Links, as part of the research project PEAH (Policies for Equitable Access to Health), aim to focus on the latest challenges by trade and governments rules to equitable access to health in resource-limited settings

Conger eel (Conger conger)

News Flash 567

Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

 

Webinar registration: No Treaty Without Equity: Drawing Red Lines to the Pandemic Instrument Apr 16, 2024

Applications open for ODI’s Fellowship Scheme. Applications close on 30 April

WHO: Public health round-up

Three decades of progress and setbacks since the first international conference on population and development

People’s Health Dispatch Bulletin #73: 5th People’s Health Assembly focuses on war’s toll amidst Gaza crisis

Kwibuka30: Learning from the Past, Safeguarding the Future Against Genocide

IFIC ANNUAL SURVEY 2024: Position paper on person and people centred care in the context of integrated care

Uganda tweaked its anti-gay law just to get donor cash, activists say

EU’s historic migration pact passes amidst divisions and far-right fears

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Consensus in times of disagreement: Vienna resolution on children’s pain relief

Tanzania Merges HIV and Diabetes Care to Tackle NCD Crisis

Future HIV epidemic trajectories in South Africa and projected long-term consequences of reductions in general population HIV testing: a mathematical modelling study

Why is cholera killing thousands in southern Africa?

Hospital infections kill hundreds of thousands in sub-Saharan Africa, research shows

WHO sounds alarm on viral hepatitis infections claiming 3500 lives each day

Stigma Prevents Europeans Living with Hepatitis B and C From Telling Families and Getting Care

Message by the Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO – March 2024

Beyond the “Gavi-Eligible”: High-Leverage Opportunities for Gavi to Enhance Vaccine Access and Uptake in Ineligible Middle-Income Countries

New Dengue Vaccine Trials Show Promise in Brazil as Cases Continue to Rise

Decisive Action Needed to Stop Cervical Cancer Deaths

De Wet Swanepoel: using digital technologies to improve access to hearing health

Inside the push to make intellectual property work for African pharma

Houses made of waste changing lives in South America

The Triple Impact of Cleanliness: Environmental, Mental, and Societal Health

UN officials in Zambia to assess worst drought in 20 years

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International court rules Switzerland violated human rights in landmark climate case brought by 2,000 women

Global rainforest loss continues at rate of 10 football pitches a minute

Just 57 companies linked to 80% of greenhouse gas emissions since 2016

Over 80% of the EU’s farming subsidies support emissions-intensive animal products – new study

 

 

 

 

 

News Flash 566: Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

News Flash Links, as part of the research project PEAH (Policies for Equitable Access to Health), aim to focus on the latest challenges by trade and governments rules to equitable access to health in resource-limited settings

Salema (Sarpa salpa)

News Flash 566

Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

 

Webinar registration: High-level dialogue between the WHO Director-General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: ‘Realizing the Right to Health in a world in turmoil’ Apr 8, 2024

Meeting registration: A stronger role for the World Health Organization in addressing climate and health justice? Apr 25, 2024

WHO unveils a digital health promoter harnessing generative AI for public health

Statement: African and European CSOs on key issues in the AU-EU Partnership

Pandemic (Dis) Agreement Talks Limp into Extra Time

Financing Our Future In The Pandemic Agreement And International Health Regulations

Local doesn’t mean low cost: Serum Institute shares global scale-up plans

High risk, high reward: Gavi’s investment in Africa vaccine production

Mpox: Is the World Failing the Next Pandemic Preparedness Litmus Test?

Continued Mpox Outbreak Leads US to Re-examine Smallpox Readiness

DNDi R&D Portfolio in Review

Sierra Leone: National TB Programme letter to Danaher to reduce the price of GeneXpert test

Belarus: National TB Programme letter to Danaher to reduce the price of GeneXpert test

Diabetes – a marker of health inequities

Mental and physical health morbidity among people in prisons: an umbrella review

Impact of the UK soft drinks industry levy on health and health inequalities in children and adolescents in England: An interrupted time series analysis and population health modelling study

The Hidden Costs of War in Syria: Assessing the Impact on Children’s Development and Mental Health

Maximizing the Benefits of Health Worker Mobility: Lessons from New WHO Guidance

HRR 718: IF YOU DO NOT STAND FOR SOMETHING, YOU WILL FALL FOR ANYTHING

Eastern DRC ‘at breaking point’ as security, humanitarian crises worsen

DR Congo appoints 1st female prime minister

Humanitarian aid needs more focus on tackling gender based violence, urges UNFPA director

Why EU information campaigns are failing to deter migrants from leaving

UN report says households waste 1 billion meals daily

Equity for thought: the power of food environments

Recipes for sustainable food systems

The Omnipresence of PFAS—and What We Can Do About Them

Climate adaptation research applied ‘in real-time’

The Impact of Climate Change on a Biodiversity Hot Spot

European Environment Agency publishes a first EU Climate Risk Assessment Report

Zimbabwe Declares Drought a National Disaster, Millions Face Hunger

Putting the ‘just’ in Just Energy Transition Partnerships: What role for the multilateral development banks?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News Flash 565: Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

News Flash Links, as part of the research project PEAH (Policies for Equitable Access to Health), aim to focus on the latest challenges by trade and governments rules to equitable access to health in resource-limited settings

Flying gurnard (Dactylopterus volitans)

News Flash 565

Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

 

People’s Health Dispatch Bulletin #72: Palestinian health workers inspire global health community

Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The Gambia Must Not Repeal FGM Ban

The Role of Fathers in Promoting Early Childhood Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Review of the Evidence

Towards authentic institutional allyship by global health funders

Conference registration: IDEAs International Conference: African Debt Crisis and the International Financial Architecture 27-29th March 2024

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Pandemic Proof Is Back for Season 2

WHO: World TB Day 2024

World TB Day Bulletin

New Technology Enables Philippines to Bring Tuberculosis Diagnosis Closer to People

South Africa’s Drug-Resistant TB Fight Stalling – Report

KFF Dashboard: Progress Toward Global Tuberculosis Targets in USAID TB Priority Countries

TB REACH TO PROVIDE INTEGRATED TB SERVICES TO 500,000 PEOPLE THROUGH NEW GBP 4 MILLION FUNDING BOOST FROM THE UK

‘Protect Bats’: Scientists Call for ‘Ecological Approaches’ to Prevent Pandemics

WHO launches CoViNet: a global network for coronaviruses

Meeting registration: The Impact of Climate Change on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs): Examples from FAIRMED’s work in Chad and Nepal Mar 28, 2024

Cholera Kills At Least 54 in Somalia; Humanitarians Call for Action

Low Immunization Coverage Leads to Global Increase in Measles Cases

Urgent vaccination campaign needed to halt deadly measles outbreak in Western Equatoria state

New MSF costing study in JAMA reveals dramatic markup on prices of new diabetes medicines and insulin pens

‘Time for Five’ coalition launches global petition targeting medical test maker Cepheid and parent corporation Danaher

It’s Time for $5: Why are these lifesaving tests out of reach for so many people?

Impact of Digital Health on the Management of Infectious Diseases: Lessons Learned during the COVID-19 Pandemic  by Nicolas Castillo

No easy answers in shift away from animal-based foods

Agri ministers call the Commission to speed up work on animal transport

Drought Fuels Hunger and Disease in Zimbabwe

Fall-out from Ecuador’s Crises Highlights Need to Invest in Grassroots Resilience

Parents Harness Pedal and Wind Power To Demand Climate Action

Snapshots: The fight against wildfires

Future of 1bn people in South Asia hinges on water pact

Talking to humans about nature protection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impact of Digital Health on the Management of Infectious Diseases: Lessons Learned during the COVID-19 Pandemic

IN A NUTSHELL
Author's note
This article examines the impact of digital health on the management of infectious diseases, focusing on lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlights the rapid expansion of telemedicine and virtual consultations, as well as the crucial role of contact tracing applications in containing the spread of the virus. Additionally, it analyzes the use of big data and predictive analytics to understand and predict the dynamics of the pandemic. Future challenges and opportunities in the implementation of digital health solutions, as well as the importance of public education and awareness, are discussed. In conclusion, the transformative role of digital health in the global response to infectious diseases is acknowledged, emphasizing the need to continue learning and adapting to address future health crises

By Nicolás Castillo

 Biochemical. Private Laboratory Santa Clara de Saguier Sanatorium, Santa Fe, Argentina 

 Impact of Digital Health on the Management of Infectious Diseases

Lessons Learned during the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

 

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical importance of digital health in the management of infectious diseases. In this context, telemedicine, contact tracing applications, big data analysis, and public education have emerged as fundamental pillars in combating the virus spread and ensuring continuity of medical care. This article examines the impact of digital health during the pandemic, highlighting lessons learned and outlining future directions for the management of infectious diseases.

Development

During the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine and virtual consultations became essential tools to ensure continuous access to medical care. The expansion of telemedicine allowed patients to receive medical attention without exposing themselves to the risk of contagion in clinical settings. This mode of care has not only proven effective in providing primary care and patient follow-up but has also promoted greater convenience and accessibility for users.

In parallel, contact tracing applications played a crucial role in containing COVID-19 outbreaks. These tools utilized geolocation and Bluetooth technology to identify and notify individuals who were exposed to the virus, thereby facilitating a rapid and effective response to mitigate virus spread. However, their effectiveness was hampered by challenges related to data privacy and widespread adoption by the population.

Big data analysis emerged as a powerful tool to understand the pandemic’s dynamics and guide public health interventions. By integrating epidemiological, mobility, and socioeconomic data, researchers could identify transmission patterns and anticipate virus spread, thereby informing decision-making on health policies. However, the collection and management of large volumes of data posed ethical and legal challenges, highlighting the need for robust safeguards to protect individuals’ privacy.

Public Education and Awareness

Digital health also played a crucial role in public education and awareness about COVID-19. Through online platforms and social media, accurate and updated information on preventive measures, symptoms of the disease, and access to health services was disseminated. However, the proliferation of online information also led to the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories, underscoring the importance of promoting digital literacy and ensuring access to reliable sources of information.

Discussion

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital health in the management of infectious diseases but has also revealed significant challenges that must be addressed to maximize its effectiveness. The digital divide, data privacy, and online misinformation are just some of the areas that require ongoing attention to ensure an equitable and effective response to future public health crises. At the same time, the pandemic has generated unprecedented momentum for innovation in digital health, offering opportunities to improve accessibility, efficiency, and equity in medical care. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the landscape of infectious disease management, highlighting the critical role of digital health in this area. By learning from the lessons of the pandemic and addressing outstanding challenges, we can harness the potential of digital health to strengthen preparedness and response to future health threats. It is essential to continue innovating and collaborating in the development of digital solutions that enhance the health and well-being of populations worldwide.

References

[PMID: 33053287] – Smith, A. C., Thomas, E., Snoswell, C. L., Haydon, H., Mehrotra, A., Clemensen, J., & Caffery, L. J. (2020). Telehealth for global emergencies: Implications for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Journal of telemedicine and telecare, 26(5), 309-313.

[PMID: 32819220] – Hellewell, J., Abbott, S., Gimma, A., Bosse, N. I., Jarvis, C. I., Russell, T. W., … & Kucharski, A. J. (2020). Feasibility of controlling COVID-19 outbreaks by isolation of cases and contacts. The Lancet Global Health, 8(4), e488-e496.

[PMID: 33032487] – Ferretti, L., Wymant, C., Kendall, M., Zhao, L., Nurtay, A., Abeler-Dörner, L., … & Fraser, C. (2020). Quantifying SARS-CoV-2 transmission suggests epidemic control with digital contact tracing. Science, 368(6491).

[PMID: 33046876] – Koonin, L. M., Hoots, B., Tsang, C. A., Leroy, Z., Farris, K., Jolly, B., … & Harris, A. M. (2020). Trends in the use of telehealth during the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic—United States, January–March 2020. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 69(43), 1595.

[PMID: 32354899] – Li, L., Xu, G., & Wang, H. (2020). Lessons from the experience in Wuhan to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection in patients undergoing long-term hemodialysis. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 15(5), 717-719.

[PMID: 33210924] – Joensen, L. E., Madsen, K. P., Holm, L., Nielsen, K. A., Rod, M. H., Petersen, A. A., … & Willaing, I. (2020). Diabetes and COVID-19: psychosocial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in people with diabetes in Denmark—what characterizes people with high levels of COVID-19-related worries? Diabet Med; 37(7): 1146-1154.

 

______

BY THE SAME AUTHOR ON PEAH 


Scientific Perspectives on Climate Change and its Influence on the Spread of Infectious Diseases

Rapid Diagnosis of Dengue: a Crucial Tool in Global Healthcare


Preparing for the Future: The Vitality of an Effective Testing Strategy in Future Pandemics 
 

The Positive Impact of Artificial Intelligence in Future Pandemics 


The Value of Communication in a Pandemic 


Epidemiological Surveillance in Pandemics


Population Aging, a Challenge for Public Health in Latin America and the World


 

 

News Flash 564: Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

News Flash Links, as part of the research project PEAH (Policies for Equitable Access to Health), aim to focus on the latest challenges by trade and governments rules to equitable access to health in resource-limited settings

Grooved helmet (Semicassis granulata undulata)

News Flash 564

Weekly Snapshot of Public Health Challenges

 

McGill Summer Institutes in Global Health Course: Reimagining Global Health | May 21-24, 2024

Call for urgent agreement on international deal to prepare for and prevent future pandemics

New Report Examines Progress on Global Sustainable Development Goals

Corruption—Standing in the Way of Effective Public Financial Management for Health?

The Malawi WhatsApp group that saved women trafficked to Oman

Trapped in Oman – BBC Africa Eye documentary

Opinion: 230 million women are affected by FGM. I am one of them

Afghanistan’s school year starts without more than 1 million girls barred from education by the Taliban

UNICEF says over 13,000 children killed in Gaza in Israel offensive

Congo faces unprecedented crisis as violence displaces 250,000 in the last month, a UN official says

HRR 716: AS WE ARE TAUGHT BY ECCLESIASTES 3:7, THERE IS A TIME TO KEEP SILENT, AND A TIME TO SPEAK. …NOW IS A TIME FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS TO SCREAM

Towards sustainable fuel subsidy reform in Nigeria

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Opinion: Malaria clinical research must include pregnant women

Millions at risk from cholera due to lack of clean water, soap and toilets, and shortage of cholera vaccine

What we’ve learned from trachoma elimination can help fight other infectious diseases

MSF calls for emergency stockpile of Ebola treatments ten years after world’s deadliest outbreak 

Africans Can Solve the Disease that Haunts Us — Here’s How

WHO Assurance on Drug Resistance to Key HIV Drug, Dolutegravir; New Trial Shows Promise With TB Treatment

Advancing PrEP Access And Utilization For Black Women And Girls

Immunization Programs and Health Services  by Francisco Becerra-Posada 

Empowering Gray House Communities Towards Vaccination Efforts: Navigating Fake Vaccination, Mobilizing Influencers, and Cultivating Trust  by Muhammad Noman

Sudan to Start Polio Immunisation as Six African Countries Detect Virus

WHO and Gavi’s global push for HPV vaccines gathers momentum

Pioneering Partnerships: The mRNA Technology Transfer Programme Inks Groundbreaking mRNA Vaccine R&D Consortia at Singapore Scientific Colloquium

Africa Tackles Rising Obesity with Joint Initiative

Europe needs to step up circular economy efforts: EU agency

Back-to-back climate disasters leave millions of Malawians in deepening need

UN weather agency issues ‘red alert’ on climate change after record heat

Only 10 Countries Had Healthy Air Quality in 2023, Report Finds

Climate change is speeding up in Antarctica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empowering Gray House Communities Towards Vaccination Efforts

IN A NUTSHELL
Author's note
This paper addresses the challenges faced in reaching Gray House children, residing in underserved areas such as urban slums and remote villages, during crucial vaccination campaigns. It discusses factors like vaccine hesitancy, logistical hurdles, and resistance to mandatory vaccination, proposing tailored communication strategies involving community engagement, influencer collaboration, and misinformation mitigation. Additionally, it emphasizes the significance of building trust, countering misinformation, and engaging diverse stakeholders to advance polio eradication efforts. The paper outlines strategies for effective communication, combating fake vaccination practices, and leveraging female influencers, providing a comprehensive framework for successful vaccination campaigns. It also presents a content framework, budget allocation strategy, and outreach plan, emphasizing adaptability and continuous improvement. Furthermore, the paper underscores the importance of evaluating campaign effectiveness and adjusting strategies accordingly to enhance vaccine uptake and accelerate progress towards polio eradication, promoting inclusivity, collaboration, and impact measurement

By Muhammad Noman

Healthcare System, CHIP Training and Consulting

Quetta, Balochistan Pakistan

Empowering Gray House Communities Towards Vaccination Efforts

 Navigating Fake Vaccination, Mobilizing Influencers, and Cultivating Trust

 

 

Introduction

In the pursuit of global health equity, Gray House children, residing in marginalized urban areas and remote villages, often face significant barriers to accessing vital healthcare services, including vaccinations against diseases like polio. Despite concerted efforts to eradicate polio, these children remain disproportionately affected due to socioeconomic factors and logistical challenges. Understanding the complex interplay of these factors is essential for designing targeted communication strategies to ensure that no child is left behind in the fight against polio. This paper explores the challenges faced in urban communities, the logistical hurdles of mobility, and the imperative for tailored communication strategies to effectively reach Gray House children. Additionally, it delves into the resistance to mandatory vaccination, the role of community leaders in dispelling misconceptions, and the necessity of countering fake vaccination practices. Through collaborative efforts and innovative communication approaches, stakeholders can move closer to the goal of polio eradication while safeguarding the health and well-being of vulnerable populations.

Understanding Gray House Children

Gray House children, residing in areas with limited healthcare access like urban slums and remote villages, are often overlooked in vaccination campaigns. Designing targeted communication strategies to reach them requires an understanding of the socioeconomic factors contributing to their invisibility.

Challenges in Urban Communities

Urban areas face a lack of awareness about polio vaccination importance, exacerbated by misinformation and rumours. This contributes to vaccine hesitancy, making it challenging to achieve high vaccination coverage.

Logistical Challenges of Mobility

The transient nature of urban populations poses logistical challenges for vaccination teams, resulting in missed opportunities for vaccination and gaps in coverage, especially among marginalized populations.

Tailored Communication Strategies

Engaging community leaders and utilizing mobile health clinics can facilitate dialogue and improve access to vaccination services in urban areas. Tailored communication strategies are crucial to ensuring that no child is left behind in the fight against polio.

Resistance to Mandatory Vaccination

Administrative pressure to administer polio doses sometimes leads to resistance among families in cities. Improved communication and trust-building efforts are necessary to address this reluctance and encourage participation in vaccination campaigns.

Engaging Community Leaders

Engaging with community leaders, religious figures, and influencers is vital to dispel misconceptions and build confidence in vaccination campaigns, ultimately encouraging families to participate willingly in immunization efforts.

Communication Challenges

Various obstacles hinder efforts to reach Gray House children and tackle fake vaccination concerns. These obstacles encompass language barriers, low literacy rates, and distrust in healthcare authorities, compounded by misinformation disseminated through social media and community networks. Cultural and religious beliefs also contribute to vaccine hesitancy, adding layers of complexity to communication endeavours.

Customized Communication Strategies

Effective engagement with Gray House children and the mitigation of fake vaccination concerns necessitate customized communication strategies. These strategies should address language barriers by utilizing multilingual materials and interpreters. Moreover, initiatives to enhance health literacy within communities, particularly in urban slums and remote areas, are imperative.

Building Trust and Countering Misinformation

Establishing trust in healthcare authorities through transparent and respectful communication is paramount. Simultaneously, countering misinformation with accurate and credible information is essential. Engaging religious leaders and community influencers to advocate for vaccination from a culturally sensitive perspective can help address underlying cultural and religious beliefs.

Moving Towards Polio Eradication

By addressing these communication challenges head-on, stakeholders can bolster vaccination uptake and advance toward the ultimate goal of polio eradication. Efforts to bridge communication gaps and foster trust within marginalized communities are integral to achieving success in immunization campaigns and safeguarding public health.

Strategies for Effective Communication

Effective communication strategies are essential for engaging with Gray House children and combating fake vaccination practices. These strategies should be culturally sensitive, community-driven, and inclusive of diverse stakeholders, including religious leaders, community influencers, and healthcare workers. Leveraging interpersonal communication, door-to-door outreach, and community mobilization efforts can help build trust and rapport with marginalized communities.

Engaging Community Influencers

Community influencers, including religious leaders, community elders, and local celebrities, wield significant influence in shaping public opinion and behavior, particularly concerning vaccination. Collaborating with these influencers can amplify pro-vaccination messages and combat misinformation within communities. Religious leaders, in particular, can leverage their authority to promote vaccination from a religious standpoint, addressing misconceptions and fostering vaccine acceptance among their followers. By involving a diverse array of influencers, stakeholders can effectively reach and mobilize communities to prioritize routine immunization, thereby advancing public health goals.

Healthcare Professionals as Influencers

Furthermore, healthcare professionals, such as child specialists, gynaecologists, and Lady Health Visitors (LHVs), serve as influential figures in promoting routine immunization. During check-ups, child specialists can educate families about the importance of vaccinations, addressing any concerns and emphasizing the health benefits for children. Similarly, gynaecologists and LHVs play crucial roles in educating pregnant women about vaccinations, including the Tetanus Toxoid (TT) injection and routine immunizations for their unborn child’s health. Leveraging the expertise and credibility of healthcare professionals as influencers can enhance awareness and uptake of vaccinations within communities.

Combatting Fake Vaccination Practices

Fake vaccination practices pose a grave threat to public health and undermine the integrity of polio eradication efforts. These practices encompass various deceitful tactics, such as falsifying vaccination records, distributing counterfeit vaccines, and coercing parents into refusing vaccination for their children. Addressing this issue demands a multifaceted approach that encompasses several key strategies.

Firstly, there is a pressing need to strengthen regulatory oversight to prevent the proliferation of fake vaccination schemes. This involves implementing stringent regulations and monitoring mechanisms to ensure the authenticity and safety of vaccines administered during vaccination campaigns.

Secondly, enhancing surveillance systems is paramount in detecting and responding to instances of fake vaccination promptly. Robust surveillance mechanisms can help identify areas or communities vulnerable to fake vaccination practices, allowing for targeted interventions and resource allocation.

Furthermore, promoting transparency and accountability within vaccination campaigns is essential for building public trust and confidence. Transparency in vaccine procurement, distribution, and administration processes can help dispel doubts and rumors surrounding vaccination efforts, while accountability mechanisms hold stakeholders accountable for their actions.

By implementing these strategies in tandem, stakeholders can effectively combat fake vaccination practices and safeguard the integrity of polio eradication initiatives, thereby ensuring the health and well-being of communities at risk.

Content Framework

Craft compelling messages emphasizing the importance of polio vaccination, addressing common misconceptions, and highlighting the benefits of immunization.

Budget Allocation

Allocate resources for influencer collaborations, content creation, and campaign monitoring, ensuring cost-effectiveness and maximum reach.

Identifying Influencers

Identifying influential figures within the community is crucial for effectively communicating vaccination messages and combating misinformation. Religious leaders, local celebrities, healthcare professionals, and community organizers are among the key influencers who can play a significant role in promoting vaccination. These influencers often have a wide reach and can effectively communicate the importance of vaccination to their followers and communities.

Religious leaders, in particular, hold significant influence over their congregations and can use their platform to dispel myths and misconceptions about vaccination. They can also emphasize the religious importance of protecting oneself and others from preventable diseases, aligning vaccination efforts with religious values and teachings.

Local celebrities are another influential group that can help promote vaccination. Their endorsement of vaccination can reach a broad audience and help counter misinformation spread through social media and other channels. Healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, are trusted sources of information about vaccination and can provide accurate information to patients and communities.

Community organizers and leaders play a crucial role in mobilizing communities and raising awareness about vaccination campaigns. They can help identify and address barriers to vaccination, such as access issues or cultural beliefs, and ensure that vaccination efforts are inclusive and effective.

In addition to religious leaders and local celebrities, engaging female influencers such as teachers, lady doctors, and Lady Health Visitors (LHVs) can significantly impact vaccination uptake and combat misinformation. Female influencers hold unique positions of trust and authority within their communities, making them valuable assets in promoting vaccination campaigns.

Female teachers, as educators and role models, have direct access to children and their families. They can integrate vaccination messages into school curricula, conduct awareness sessions for parents, and address concerns about immunization in a familiar and trusted environment.

Lady doctors and healthcare professionals play a pivotal role in dispelling myths and fears surrounding vaccination. Their expertise and empathy enable them to address concerns effectively, provide accurate information, and encourage families to prioritize vaccination for their children’s health and well-being.

Lady Health Visitors (LHVs) are frontline healthcare workers who have established relationships with families in their communities. They provide essential maternal and child health services, making them trusted sources of information on vaccination. LHVs can conduct home visits, organize community events, and offer one-on-one counselling to promote vaccine acceptance and address any concerns or misconceptions.

Child specialists, including paediatricians and child psychologists, are also influential in promoting routine immunization. Their expertise in child health and development allows them to tailor vaccination messages to resonate with parents and caregivers. By emphasizing the benefits of vaccination for children’s long-term health and well-being, child specialists can motivate families to prioritize immunization.

Incorporating these influencers into vaccination campaigns can enhance community engagement, increase vaccine acceptance, and contribute to the success of polio eradication efforts by reaching marginalized populations effectively.

Outreach

Reach out to selected influencers with a clear proposal outlining the campaign objectives, content requirements, and expected outcomes. Ensure that influencers are aligned with the goals of the campaign and have credibility within their communities.

Launch Phase 1

Implement the initial influencer collaborations, monitoring key metrics such as reach, engagement, and audience response to gauge effectiveness.

Measuring Results

Analyze the impact of the campaign through metrics such as increased vaccination rates, community engagement, and changes in awareness and attitudes towards polio vaccination.

Launch Phase 2

Based on the success of initial collaborations, extend partnerships with influencers who demonstrate strong engagement and influence in their communities.

Adapt and Iterate

Continuously evaluate the campaign’s performance and refine strategies based on feedback and insights gathered from monitoring and evaluation activities. Adjust messaging and tactics as needed to optimize results and address emerging challenges.

Conclusion

In conclusion, addressing the challenges of vaccinating Gray House children in urban areas requires tailored communication strategies and engagement with community influencers. These children, often residing in marginalized communities, face obstacles such as misinformation, logistical challenges, and resistance to vaccination. By engaging religious leaders, healthcare professionals, and community organizers, stakeholders can build trust, dispel misconceptions, and enhance vaccine acceptance. Customized communication strategies, inclusive of diverse stakeholders, are essential for reaching these populations effectively. Moreover, combating fake vaccination practices demands regulatory oversight, surveillance enhancement, and transparency within vaccination campaigns. By leveraging the influence of key influencers and continuously refining communication approaches, stakeholders can advance toward the goal of polio eradication and safeguard public health.

 

LINKS OF INTEREST

   www.nhsrc.gov.pk

   www.polioeradication.org

https://dghs.punjab.gov.pk/extended_program_immunization   

   www.emro.who.int

   www.fda.gov

   www.immunize.org

   www.rotary.org

   www.cdc.gov

   www.vaccinetimes.com

   www.gatesfoundation.org

 

By the same Author on PEAH 

Bridging the Gap: Elevating Preventive Healthcare in Pakistan’s Health Agenda

Polio Eradication Strategies and Challenges: Navigating Hidden Risks

The Gray Houses Polio Eradication Initiative: A Case Study on Identifying and Vaccinating Hidden Children

  Balochistan Primary Healthcare: What Has Been Done and What Needs to Improve?

Decision Makers’ Perception of the Performance and Salary of UC Polio Officers in Pakistan

Polio Eradication Programme in Pakistan: Critical Analysis from 1999 to 2023 

Immunization Programs and Health Services

IN A NUTSHELL
Author's note
…Outbreaks have costs to the health system, the family, and the patients. Vaccines are cheaper than the costs of epidemiological management, hospitalizations, etc. The support of the system is crucial for reaching protective coverages. Adequate planning, training, coordination, and especially sustained financing are crucial for a functional immunization program.

 By Francisco  Becerra-Posada, MD, MPH, DrPH

 Immunization Programs and Health Services

 

Most countries have a vaccination program that most probably started as an independent vertical program. There is enough discussion and evidence of the pros and cons of this kind of interventions. Some examples had a positive impact, as the smallpox eradication program, and others failed due to a lack of coordination.[1]

Either way, vertical programs do have to coordinate and use the health services. Health services, as part of the health system, are key for the success of any program. Immunization programs are not the exemption.

When managing immunization programs, coordination is essential for its success. From the planning stage to calculate the demand according to the cohorts, to the logistics and operational issues, it has to coordinate with many instances within the health system. If any of the different areas fails, vaccines do not get to the clinics and people are not vaccinated.

During the pandemic, many preventive programs, and actions, were not available due to closing of clinics, moving health personnel to clinical work to care for COVID-19 patients. However, in many countries’ vaccine coverages were not the desired ones to ensure protection to the population and a decrease of coverage was seen.

However, there are signs of recuperation. WHO states that from 18.1 million children that had zero doses in 2021, decreased to 14.3 million in 2022, close to the pre-pandemic value of 12.9 million in 2019. A slight increase, from 81% in 2021 to 83% in 2022 for measles vaccination, is still below the 2019 value of 86%. Vaccination against DPT (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine) recovered from 81 (2021) to 84% in 2022.[2]

Outbreaks, commonly in countries with weak immunization programs, are now being detected worldwide. There are various outbreaks worldwide and developed and high-income countries are reporting outbreaks. The US has recently reported measles outbreaks in various states.[3] Approaches to deal with them have varied, from very by the book approaches, to an unusual approach in Florida where health authorities diminished the problem.[4] Europe has recently reported a diphtheria outbreak with a focus on the Czech Republic and the first death by the disease since 1969.[5]

Health systems and services are important to ensure that vaccination programs are managed in and efficient and effective way. Cold chain has to be preserved and functional during the whole logistic chain, from the producer to the country, to the clinic, to the person’s arm. Vaccines have to be seen under a vision of life course. Health personnel, be it at the Primary Health Care setting to the specialized care, have a role to play as vaccine promotors. OB/GYN with pregnant women for influenza and diphtheria; internal medicine, cardiologist, pneumologist, with patients with hypertension, diabetes, obesity, should receive influenza vaccines on time.

Outbreaks have costs to the health system, the family, and the patients. Vaccines are cheaper than the costs of epidemiological management, hospitalizations, etc. The support of the system is crucial for reaching protective coverages. Adequate planning, training, coordination, and especially sustained financing are crucial for a functional immunization program.

 

References

[1] Cairncross S, Peries H, Cutts F; Vertical health programmes, Lancet 1999; 349 (supl III):20-22 https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(97)90079-9

[2] Vaccines and immunization, https://www.who.int/health-topics/vaccines-and-immunization#tab=tab_1

[3] Measles Cases and Outbreaks, CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html

[4] Florida refuses to bar unvaccinated children from school suffering  a measles outbreak https://apnews.com/article/measles-outbreak-florida-school-ladapo-259440881f1d5e11dc69ed64ff055418

[5] Muerte por Difteria en Praga, república Checa. https://fundacionio.com/muerte-por-difteria-en-praga-republica-checa/ (in Spanish)

 

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Bridging the Gap: Elevating Preventive Healthcare in Pakistan’s Health Agenda

IN A NUTSHELL
Author's note
In the intricate web of Pakistan's healthcare landscape, one critical thread often remains overlooked: preventive healthcare. While the nation grapples with numerous health challenges, the focus has predominantly been on treatment and cure, sidelining the crucial role of prevention. This article sheds light on the pressing need to elevate preventive healthcare in Pakistan's health agenda and explores the multifaceted dimensions of this neglected aspect

By Muhammad Noman

Healthcare System, CHIP Training and Consulting

Quetta, Balochistan Pakistan

Elevating Preventive Healthcare in Pakistan’s Health Agenda

Bridging the Gap

 

The Prevalent Disparity

Pakistan’s healthcare system is characterized by a stark disparity between investments in curative services and preventive measures. The private sector, driven by profit motives, heavily invests in hospitals and specialized treatments, relegating preventive healthcare initiatives to the sidelines. Consequently, preventive services struggle to gain traction and resources, perpetuating a cycle of illness and treatment rather than proactive health maintenance.

The prevalent disparity in Pakistan’s healthcare system between investments in curative services and preventive measures underscores a fundamental imbalance in healthcare priorities. While the country boasts a robust network of hospitals and specialized treatment facilities, preventive healthcare initiatives often languish in the shadows, receiving inadequate attention and resources. This imbalance perpetuates a cycle of reactive healthcare, where illnesses are treated after they manifest rather than being proactively prevented.

At the heart of this disparity lies the orientation of the private sector towards profit-driven healthcare models. Private healthcare entities predominantly invest in hospitals and advanced treatment modalities, which yield higher returns on investment compared to preventive interventions. Consequently, preventive healthcare services struggle to garner the same level of financial support and infrastructure development, creating a lopsided healthcare landscape where treatment takes precedence over prevention.

In communities across Pakistan, this disparity manifests in the prevailing mindset that prioritizes seeking medical attention only when illness strikes. Preventive measures such as regular health check-ups, vaccination drives, and lifestyle modifications often take a backseat, as individuals and communities focus on addressing immediate health concerns rather than proactively safeguarding their well-being. This reactive approach perpetuates the burden of disease and contributes to the escalating healthcare costs associated with managing preventable illnesses.

Moreover, the policy landscape exacerbates this disparity, with government healthcare policies predominantly centered around building hospitals and expanding access to curative services. While these initiatives are essential for addressing acute healthcare needs, they often neglect the foundational role of prevention in promoting population health and reducing the burden of disease. The lack of cohesive preventive healthcare policies reflects a systemic failure to recognize the long-term benefits of investing in prevention.

Addressing the prevalent disparity in Pakistan’s healthcare system requires a paradigm shift in healthcare priorities and resource allocation. Governments must recognize the intrinsic value of preventive healthcare and prioritize the development and implementation of comprehensive preventive healthcare policies. This includes investing in public health infrastructure, promoting health education and awareness campaigns, and incentivizing preventive healthcare practices at the community level.

Additionally, private sector entities have a vital role to play in bridging this disparity by redirecting investments towards preventive healthcare initiatives. By aligning profit motives with public health goals, private healthcare providers can contribute to building a more balanced healthcare system that prioritizes both treatment and prevention.

Community Perceptions and Practices

In communities across Pakistan, there exists a prevailing mindset that prioritizes seeking medical attention only when illness strikes, rather than adopting preventive measures to safeguard health. This reactive approach undermines the significance of preventive interventions and perpetuates the burden of disease. Community awareness and education on the importance of prevention are crucial to fostering a culture of proactive health-seeking behavior.

Community perceptions and practices play a pivotal role in shaping healthcare outcomes and the effectiveness of public health interventions. In Pakistan, as in many other countries, these perceptions and practices are influenced by a multitude of factors including cultural beliefs, socioeconomic status, access to healthcare services, and exposure to health education. Understanding and addressing these community dynamics are essential for designing targeted and culturally appropriate health interventions that resonate with the population’s needs and values.

One of the key aspects of community perceptions is the cultural beliefs surrounding health and illness. In Pakistan, traditional healing practices and folk remedies often coexist alongside modern healthcare systems. Many communities rely on traditional healers, herbal medicines, and religious rituals to address health issues, particularly in rural areas where access to formal healthcare services may be limited. Understanding and respecting these cultural beliefs are crucial for healthcare providers and policymakers seeking to engage with these communities effectively.

Socioeconomic factors also play a significant role in shaping community perceptions and practices related to health. In Pakistan, disparities in income, education, and access to healthcare services contribute to differential health outcomes among different socioeconomic groups. For example, individuals from lower-income households may face barriers such as cost-related access issues, limited health literacy, and a lack of awareness about preventive healthcare practices. As a result, they may be more likely to rely on home remedies or delay seeking medical care until conditions worsen.

Access to healthcare services is another critical determinant of community perceptions and practices. In rural and remote areas of Pakistan, where healthcare facilities are scarce, communities may have limited options for seeking medical care. This can lead to a reliance on informal healthcare providers or traditional healers, who may not always adhere to evidence-based practices or standards of care. Improving access to quality healthcare services, especially in underserved areas, is essential for empowering communities to make informed decisions about their health.

Health education and awareness initiatives play a vital role in shaping community perceptions and practices towards health. By providing culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate health information, these programs can help dispel myths, promote healthy behaviors, and encourage preventive healthcare practices. Community-based approaches, such as peer education and community health workers, can be particularly effective in reaching marginalized populations and addressing specific health concerns within local contexts.

In conclusion, understanding and addressing community perceptions and practices are essential for promoting public health and improving healthcare outcomes in Pakistan. By recognizing the cultural, socioeconomic, and access-related factors that influence these dynamics, policymakers and healthcare providers can develop targeted interventions that empower communities to take control of their health. Through collaborative efforts that prioritize community engagement and participation, Pakistan can work towards building a healthier and more resilient society for all its citizens.

Policy Disconnect

The policy disconnect in Pakistan’s healthcare system reflects a misalignment between healthcare policies and the actual needs and realities of the population. Despite investments in healthcare infrastructure and services, there is often a lack of emphasis on preventive healthcare measures and community health promotion. This disconnect is evident in several areas:

  1. Focus on Curative Care: Healthcare policies often prioritize curative care over preventive measures. While hospitals and specialized care facilities receive significant attention and resources, efforts to promote community health, prevent diseases, and address social determinants of health are relatively neglected.
  2. Limited Investment in Prevention: Preventive healthcare measures, such as vaccination programs, health education initiatives, and early screening for diseases, receive insufficient investment and attention compared to curative interventions. This imbalance perpetuates the cycle of illness and disease rather than addressing root causes and promoting wellness.
  3. Fragmented Approach: Healthcare policies may lack coherence and integration across different sectors and levels of government. This fragmentation leads to inefficiencies, gaps in service delivery, and duplication of efforts, hindering the overall effectiveness of healthcare programs.
  4. Insufficient Community Engagement: Policies often fail to adequately involve communities in decision-making processes and health promotion activities. This lack of community engagement results in limited awareness, poor health-seeking behaviors, and barriers to accessing healthcare services, particularly among marginalized populations.
  5. Inadequate Public-Private Collaboration: There is often a disconnect between the public and private healthcare sectors, with limited collaboration and coordination between the two. While the private sector plays a significant role in healthcare service delivery, especially in urban areas, there is a need for greater alignment with public health priorities and policies.

Addressing the policy disconnect in Pakistan’s healthcare system requires a comprehensive approach that prioritizes preventive healthcare, fosters multi-sectoral collaboration, empowers communities, and promotes equity in healthcare access and delivery. By bridging the gap between policy intentions and implementation realities, Pakistan can improve health outcomes and enhance the well-being of its population.

The Imperative for Change

The neglect of preventive healthcare in Pakistan’s health agenda is not merely a policy oversight but a systemic failure with far-reaching consequences. Prevention not only reduces the burden of disease but also promotes overall well-being and saves healthcare costs in the long run. By prioritizing prevention, governments can mitigate the incidence of diseases and improve the health outcomes of the population, ultimately leading to a healthier and more resilient society.

The imperative for change in Pakistan’s healthcare system is clear, given the persistent challenges and disparities in health outcomes. Several key areas require urgent attention to bridge the gap between policy intentions and implementation realities:

  1. Shift Towards Preventive Healthcare: There is a critical need to prioritize preventive healthcare measures, including health education, vaccination programs, and early screening for diseases. This shift can help reduce the burden of disease and improve overall health outcomes.
  2. Enhanced Community Engagement: Policies should focus on empowering communities to take charge of their health through active participation in health promotion activities and decision-making processes. Community-based approaches can lead to more effective and sustainable health interventions.
  3. Integrated Health Policies: Healthcare policies should be integrated across sectors and levels of government to ensure coherence and effectiveness. This includes aligning health priorities with broader development goals and coordinating efforts among various stakeholders.
  4. Public-Private Collaboration: There is a need for greater collaboration between the public and private healthcare sectors to leverage resources, improve service delivery, and enhance access to healthcare services, particularly in underserved areas.
  5. Focus on Equity: Policies should prioritize equity in healthcare access and delivery, ensuring that vulnerable and marginalized populations receive the care they need. This includes addressing social determinants of health and reducing disparities in health outcomes.
  6. Enhanced Monitoring and Evaluation: A robust monitoring and evaluation framework is essential to track progress, identify gaps, and inform policy decisions. This includes regular assessment of healthcare services, health outcomes, and the impact of policies on population health.
  7. Capacity Building: Investment in healthcare workforce development and infrastructure is crucial to strengthen the healthcare system’s capacity to deliver quality care. This includes training healthcare professionals, improving facilities, and enhancing service delivery mechanisms.
  8. Policy Advocacy and Implementation: There is a need for strong policy advocacy and political commitment to drive change in the healthcare system. Policies should be evidence-based, responsive to local needs, and implemented effectively to achieve desired health outcomes.

By addressing these key areas, Pakistan can build a more resilient and responsive healthcare system that meets the needs of its population, improves health outcomes, and contributes to sustainable development.

A Call to Action: Transforming Pakistan’s Healthcare System

Addressing the gap in preventive healthcare requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders – governments, private sectors, and communities. Governments must develop and implement comprehensive policies that prioritize preventive interventions, including awareness campaigns, vaccination programs, and lifestyle interventions. Private sector entities should invest in preventive healthcare initiatives, recognizing the long-term benefits for both individuals and society.

Pakistan stands at a crossroads in its healthcare journey, facing persistent challenges and disparities that hinder progress towards better health outcomes for all. As we reflect on the current state of healthcare in the country, it becomes increasingly clear that bold and decisive action is needed to address the underlying issues and pave the way for a healthier future.

  1. Prioritize Prevention: We must shift our focus from a predominantly curative approach to one that emphasizes preventive healthcare. Investing in health education, vaccination programs, and early disease detection can help reduce the burden of illness and improve overall well-being.

2. Empower Communities: Engaging communities as active partners in healthcare delivery is essential. By involving local residents in decision-making processes and empowering them to take ownership of their health, we can foster a culture of wellness and self-care.

  1. Integrate Health Policies: Healthcare policies must be integrated across sectors and levels of government to ensure coherence and effectiveness. This includes aligning health priorities with broader development goals and coordinating efforts among various stakeholders.
  2. Foster Public-Private Collaboration: Collaboration between the public and private healthcare sectors is key to expanding access to quality services and leveraging resources efficiently. By forging partnerships and sharing expertise, we can strengthen the healthcare system and reach more people in need.
  3. Promote Equity: We must prioritize equity in healthcare access and delivery, ensuring that vulnerable and marginalized populations receive the care they deserve. Addressing social determinants of health and reducing disparities are essential steps towards achieving health equity.
  4. Enhance Monitoring and Evaluation: A robust monitoring and evaluation framework is critical for tracking progress, identifying gaps, and informing policy decisions. By regularly assessing healthcare services and outcomes, we can ensure that our efforts are yielding tangible results.
  5. Invest in Capacity Building: Investing in healthcare workforce development and infrastructure is essential for building a resilient and responsive healthcare system. By training healthcare professionals, improving facilities, and enhancing service delivery mechanisms, we can strengthen our healthcare infrastructure and better meet the needs of our population.
  6. Advocate for Change: Strong policy advocacy and political commitment are essential for driving transformative change in the healthcare sector. By advocating for evidence-based policies and holding decision-makers accountable, we can create an environment conducive to positive health outcomes.

It is time for all stakeholders – government agencies, healthcare providers, civil society organizations, and individuals – to come together in a concerted effort to transform Pakistan’s healthcare system. By working collaboratively and taking decisive action, we can build a healthier, more prosperous future for our nation. The time for action is now.

Conclusion

In Pakistan’s healthcare landscape, the disparity between investments in curative care and preventive measures persists, hindering progress towards better health outcomes for all. The neglect of preventive healthcare initiatives reflects a systemic failure that requires urgent attention and action.

Addressing this disparity requires a multifaceted approach that prioritizes prevention, empowers communities, integrates health policies, fosters public-private collaboration, promotes equity, enhances monitoring and evaluation, invests in capacity building, and advocates for change.

By bridging the gap between treatment and prevention, Pakistan can pave the way for a healthier future. It’s time for all stakeholders – governments, private sectors, communities, and individuals – to come together and prioritize preventive healthcare in the nation’s health agenda. Through collective action and a renewed commitment to preventive measures, Pakistan can overcome its health challenges and build a resilient healthcare system that prioritizes the well-being of its people. The time for action is now.

 

LINKS OF INTEREST 


www.nhsrc.gov.pk

 www.polioeradication.org

 https://dghs.punjab.gov.pk/extended_program_immunization

 www.emro.who.int 

 www.fda.gov

  www.immunize.org

  www.rotary.org

  www.cdc.gov

  www.vaccinetimes.com

  www.gatesfoundation.org

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