IEP Chandigarh, May 24
Lauding the efforts of all the Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) supported by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for playing pivotal role in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Balbir Singh on Friday said that the Punjab state has successfully achieved 98% coverage for the first dose of Covid vaccination, while, 86% for the 2nd dose for 18+ population. The data is per the data available on CoWIN Portal till May 12, 2023.
The Health Minister was presiding over the meeting collaboratively organised by the USAID and Punjab Health Department to share the experiences and the learnings during Covid pandemic, particularly in the field of COVID-19 vaccination. He was Chief Guest on the meet, which was organised to recognise the efforts of all the stakeholders with whose contributions Punjab was able to fight Covid in a successful manner.
Multi-stakeholder partnerships and strong community engagement was the force behind enhancing COVID-19 vaccine coverage. Momentum Routine Immunization Transformation & Equity project, funded by USAID, in partnership with the State Health department, had worked towards increasing the demand and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, for the vulnerable and marginalised population of the state including the migratory population and transgender community.
Dr Balbir Singh acknowledged the invaluable contribution of the project and its local partners— Society for All Round Development-SARD India, MAMTA Health Institute for Mother and Child, Transport Corporation of India-TCI, and HelpAge India, in achieving the COVID-19 vaccination targets efficiently during the meet. He also praised commendable support by the religious institutions of Punjab, especially ‘Sri Akal Takht Sahib’ and ‘Deras’ through mass appeal which resulted in considerable increase in the number of vaccinations.
He exhorted everyone to follow a healthy lifestyle to prevent diseases. He also underlined the role of Ayurveda and Homeopathy in treatment of chronic diseases. “Soon, the Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann led Punjab government would introduce regular Yoga and lifestyle modification sessions in all the health wellness centres,” he said.
Health Minister also released a coffee table book depicting the project’s journey in Punjab along with books for children developed jointly by SARD and the National Book Trust (NBT).
During the event, the NGOs acknowledged the support received from the Health Department of Punjab for their proactive support in ensuring vaccine supply to meet the necessary targets. The NGOs used this opportunity to showcase the success stories and innovative approaches applied during the implementation of the project.
Dr. Gopal K. Soni, Project Director, Momentum Routine Immunization Transformation & Equity project highlighted that the NGO partners of Punjab used unique strategies of project implementation by engaging Faith-based organisations and visiting non-conventional places of gatherings including Grain Markets, Deras, Industrial Sites, etc. to target the most vulnerable and marginalised communities to intensify the vaccine uptake.
To build confidence in vaccines and ensuring the COVID-19 vaccination is accessible to all, the teams conducted special vaccination camps for persons with disability, children, the elderly population, the transgender community, etc. which are great learnings from the project and could be replicated to strengthen other immunisation programs of the country, he said. “The project is thankful to the State Government, Health Department and other departments for supporting this initiative,” he said.
Director Health and Family Welfare Punjab Dr Adarshpal Kaur acknowledged the assistance provided by the NGOs to connect with marginalised and vulnerable society and supported government efforts to extend the reach of routine immunisation drives.
Senior health department representatives,Director Health Services ( Family Welfare) Dr. Ravindra Pal Kaur, Director NHM Dr. S.P. Singh, State Immunization Officer Dr. Balwinder Kaur, State Nodal Officer (Covid) Dr. Rajesh Bhaskar, Joh Snow India Punjab State Team, District Health authorities and community stakeholders were also present at the occasion.
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