NA panel passes capital vaccination bill

The bill also proposes fines and punishment for those who refuse vaccination of children


Our Correspondent July 21, 2017
The bill also proposes fines and punishment for those who refuse vaccination of children. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee on Thursday passed the Islamabad Compulsory Vaccination and Protection of Health Workers Bill 2015, which aims to make vaccination mandatory for every child in the capital.

The bill, which has already been passed by the Senate, will now be presented on the floor of the National Assembly for final approval.

The draft law had been proposed after parents started turning away vaccinators during polio immunisation drives. However, the law now focuses on basic immunisation of children from birth to one-and-a-half-years of age against nine diseases.

A meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination was held under the chairmanship of Khalid Hussain Magsi to consider the b. Apart from considering the boll moved by MNA Zahra Wadood Fatemi, the committee also considered The Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-Smokers Health (Amendment) Bill 2017, moved by MNA Dr Nikhat Shakeel Khan.

The committee appreciated the immunisation process carried out by the provinces. The committee discussed the compulsory vaccination bill and passed it unanimously.

Although the bill is limited to areas managed by the federal government, the provincial governments too have agreed to adopt it in order to make vaccination for children mandatory across Pakistan.

“To make vaccination effective, the bill will involve schools and the National Database and Registration Authority (NDRA) to make vaccination certificates mandatory for school admissions, foreign travel and for the issuance of other key certificates,” said Fatemi.

Rural and basic health centres will also be responsible for vaccination of children born in their area, she added.

Once approved, the legislation will make vaccination against deadly diseases a right of every child, Fatemi said, hoping that the draft law would help reduce child mortality in the country, amongst the highest in the region.

The bill also proposes fines and punishment for those who refuse vaccination of children.

The committee discussed but deferred the smoking bill until its next meeting. The committee recommended that input should be sought from the relevant departments over the bill before its next meeting.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2017.

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