ISLAMABAD: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday handed over 23 vans to the Federal Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI) to be used for expanding essential immunization coverage in high-risk five megacities and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services, Dr. Faisal Sultan received the vans from UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, Ms. Aida Girma in presence of the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative, Dr. Palitha Mahipala. Addressing the ceremony, Dr. Faisal said that with funding of around 537,000 US dollars from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a total of 30 vehicles, 23 Suzuki vans, and 7 Hilux vans, were to be handed over by UNICEF to EPI for expanding immunization services in high-risk districts, under-served areas and densely populated urban areas with low capacities. While 23 Suzuki vans were handed over today while remaining seven vehicles are in the process of procurement. “UNICEF has been supporting EPI in terms of procurement of vaccines, cold chain management and raising awareness about the importance of immunization so that communities could benefit from the high quality of services being provided at health facilities and at their doorstep during campaigns,” said Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative. “The vaccination vans handed over today to EPI will help expand these services. We are encouraged by the dynamic leadership of the Ministry of National Health Services and EPI and are grateful to our donors such as Gavi for their financial support as we push forward to achieve the shared objective of keeping every child in Pakistan, alive, healthy, and thriving,” UNICEF Representative added. Easily identifiable through EPI branding, each of these vans would carry a team of health professionals provided by the respective district health department, including a vaccinator, Lady Health Visitor, community midwife, and a social mobilizer along with a standard kit of medicines and equipment. Each team will be able to provide health and hygiene services including vaccination, vitamin A supplementation, de-worming, antenatal care, screening of nutritional status, provision of micronutrient supplements, and behavioral change communication messages.