KARACHI: Improving routine immunisation has been a challenging task and steps have been taken in line with the commitment of the government to address all challenges with the technical and financial support of development partners, particularly USAID, WHO and UNICEF, said Sindh Health Minister Jam Mehtab on Tuesday. Addressing a ceremony organised by John Snow Inc (JSI) on Tuesday, he said one of the significant steps taken by the department with support of USAID is the changing behaviour of public sector from manual to auto reporting through introduction of web-based vaccine and cold chain logistics management information systems. The event was held for handing over USAID donated 350 sets of IT equipment worth Rs 52.5 million to the Health Department for strengthening EPI data reporting through web-based Vaccine Logistics Management Information System (VLMIS). The minister called for a high accountability of the EPI district workforce to improve performance and vaccination coverage in the province. Health Secretary Department Dr Saeed Ahmed Mangnejo reiterated departmental commitment to ensure zero tolerance for non-performers. The ceremony was attended by public and private sector senior staff, representatives from donor agencies, development partners and United State Consulate Karachi. Dr Muhammad Tariq said that the IT equipment include, desktop computers, printers and UPS which have been distributed among trained operators at provincial, district and taluka levels by the JSI. With this support, the implementation process of online data management system for vaccines and cold chain logistics, including comprehensive trainings of 3,500 EPI staff on the use of vLMIS has been successfully completed. Currently, Sindh is the only province that has implemented USAID supported web-based vLMIS in all 24 districts and 18 Karachi towns for real time data management and monitoring vaccines and cold chain logistics. There has always been question marks and finger pointing on efficacy of vaccine and cold chain management – whenever a polio case or any measles outbreak erupted. A real time data management and monitoring tool was the dire need for the entire country, particularly in Sindh to address all the challenges and to handle the untoward situations, he added. While talking to participants of the ceremony, the health secretary appreciated the technical and financial support of USAID for improving health systems indicators through Mother and Child Health Programme in the province. He appreciated the technical leadership of Country Director, JSI-Health Logistics Dr Muhammad Tariq and his team for bridging the US government’s supply chain systems. He urged and advised DOH and EPI officials to fully implement the vLMIS up to EPI centre level and ensure quality data through regular monitoring. Health Services Director General Dr Hassan Murad Shah also acknowledged the USAID’s logistics and supply chain support provided through ‘Deliver Project’ for strengthening routine immunisation across Sindh. On the occasion, USAID Deputy Mission Director Jaqueline Schumacher said, “The US government appreciates the receptive approach of the Sindh government towards health sector reforms and that we are committed to continue our support to strengthen public health supply chain system.” She also appreciated and congratulated Dr Tariq and his team for their successful interventions for sustainable strengthening logistics and supply chain management system in Pakistan, particularly in Sindh.