‘Women can help push coronavirus vaccination’

Experts say role of LHWs instrumental in busting myths on anti-polio drops

Our Correspondent March 12, 2021


’Engaging women in the novel coronavirus vaccination efforts can help dispel the misconception about the anti-Covid drugs, speakers said at a seminar.

Lady health workers, having access to households, were instrumental in undoing the propaganda against the polio vaccine and they could do so in bringing down the delusions about the Covid vaccine too, they said at the webinar Choose to Challenge held by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), in connection with International Women’s Day.

Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, while drawing the parallels between the campaign for polio and Covid-19 vaccination, informed the participants that lady health workers played a highly instrumental role in taking the vaccine to highly conservative and hard to reach areas. These brave women also played important role in creating acceptance for the vaccine amongst the people.

Many lady health workers were killed for taking part in polio vaccination drives, but the courageous women continued their efforts against the crippling disease.

Besides endorsement from political leaders, religious and other influential of society, giving women a key role in the Covid-19 vaccination campaign would yield highly positive dividends, she concluded.

Public Health Policy Analyst Dr. Nadia Waqar was of the view that the society in Pakistan is quite susceptible to the conspiracy theories, and like it was the case with polio vaccination, creating a trust for the Covid-19 vaccination would remain one of the major challenges.

To create gender equality, she said, a multi-sectoral approach is the need of the hour and thus, “we may integrate the policies on nutrition, health, and education, especially for women and girls to respond to existing gaps.”

The Canadian government, as part of its approach for supporting international development, is continuously pushing forward the agenda of promoting social and economic empowerment amongst the women and girls, Canadian High Commission Head of Development Cooperation Christopher King said.

The pandemic Covid-19 has worsened the access of women in Pakistan to health and reproductive health facilities, he said. “Therefore, we are supporting the efforts to analyse these effects on women and girls and the corresponding measures to reduce this gap accordingly,” he said.

King said: “Our commitments are not just based on values, but evidence shows empowerment and leadership of women has been a key in improving socio-economic indicator of a society.” Therefore, our all policies regarding international development cooperation are designed with the gender-lens, he added.

SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that the most pertinent question of the hour is that how not only women but sensitised men could work together to create gender-equality and to take this sensitizing to others as well.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2021.

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