Mobile Health Services Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations in Pakistan

September 1st, 2022 | News


Local officials convey need for and availability of COVID-19 vaccinations at a USAID-supported monthly meeting

In a remote district along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, Shoaib Khan, director of the Rehabilitation Center for Drug Addicts (RCDA), worried because his clients, who live full time at the center, couldn’t get vaccinated for COVID-19. “It is a great responsibility to run institutions like rehabilitation centers, but it is difficult for us to take patients to even the nearest vaccination center,” said Mr. Khan.

Although the local department of health set up COVID-19 vaccination centers in major hospitals and city centers, people who are underserved and/or live in remote areas are unable to access them easily. RCDA clients’ fragile health prevents them from traveling to the vaccination centers.

At the January 2022 district health and population management team (DHPMT) meeting, Mr. Khan, in his capacity as the district social welfare officer and RCDA director, mentioned that his clients needed COVID-19 vaccinations. The district health officer replied that a USAID-supported mobile health services unit (MHSU) was available to bring COVID-19 vaccinations to people who couldn’t travel to cities and hospitals.

The USAID-supported Integrated Health Systems Strengthening and Service Delivery (IHSS-SD) Activity, implemented by JSI, provided initial financial and coordination support for monthly DHPMT meetings, which have become self-sustaining as local officials like Mr. Khan see their value. IHSS-SD also helped the provincial department of health operationalize three MHSUs and trained health workers to educate people about COVID-19 vaccination, follow vaccination standard operating procedures, and enter client data into district, provincial, and national registers.

In March 2022, an MHSU arrived at RCDA and vaccinated 49 people for COVID-19. Although five clients did not have national identity cards or registration numbers, MHSU staff vaccinated them and added their names manually to the district data register.

“I am really thankful for the support by USAID for providing platforms like the DHPMT [meeting], where we can discuss and solve our challenges. Moreover, the MHSU van provided COVID-19 vaccination to our [clients]. It would have been [very hard] to control the virus if any one of the patients caught it, because they live in close contact,” said Mr. Khan.

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