ISLAMABAD, Feb 06 (APP):Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza on Thursday launched the “Sehat Tahaffuz” helpline 1166 to provide health-related information services to the people.

Through the helpline citizens will be able to obtain immediate assistance to their queries and concerns related to Polio and routine immunisation services.

“The Sehat Tahaffuz helpline is an initiative of the Government of Pakistan which is anticipated to bring lasting health benefits to all citizens of Pakistan,” said Dr Zafar Mirza.

“By calling dedicated 1166 number citizens will get access to reliable information relating to immunisation and vaccine-preventable diseases and enable them to handle misinformation and anti-vaccine propaganda,” he added.

He expressed his optimism that such helpline would set an example, vowing to win the trust of parents and communities.

The inauguration event was attended by donors and partners. Established at the National Emergency Operations Centre in Islamabad, the state-of-the-art call centre will help to meeting the growing needs of health-related information, including Polio.

It will also provide information and address queries of parents and caregivers related to the vaccine. Dedicated experts will be available to provide information and support as needed.

Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar, Coordinator National Emergency Operations Centre, briefed the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on the operations of the Sehat Tahaffuz helpline.

“Run by the well-trained staff with local language capacities, the helpline operates from 8 am to 12 midnight every day. It can immediately report a missed child to relevant staff for follow-up and vaccine coverage.

The helpline is also provided information related to other health services,” said Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar.

The Sehat Tahhafuz helpline is aiming to assist the programme in reaching every child with essential polio vaccine as parents are encouraged to report if their children were missed during door-to-door national immunisation campaigns.

A donor briefing meeting was organized prior to the inauguration of the helpline where Dr Zafar Mirza apprised the donors on the polio situation of the country and the initiatives undertaken by the government to tackle this daunting challenge.

He re-affirmed the government commitment to tackling polio eradication as a top national agenda.

Poliovirus continues to paralyse children for life with intensified transmission over the past year.

A total of 144 children was paralysed by polio in 2019. Anti-vaccine propaganda continues to hamper the government’s efforts to eradicate polio.

The helpline will provide reliable and credible information to the concerned parents and caregivers through establishing a direct link.

Pakistan remains one of the last two countries in the world, alongside Afghanistan, where poliovirus continues to circulate actively.

There is a strong national and international commitment to eradicate polio. It is a collective responsibility to ensure all children are protected, and vaccination is the only and best protection against the poliovirus.