A Holistic Strategy of Mother and Child Health Care to Improve the Coverage of Routine and Polio Immunization in Pakistan: Results from a Demonstration Project

Muhammad Atif Habib, Sajid Bashir Soofi, Zamir Hussain, Imran Ahmed, Rehman Tahir, Saeed Anwar, Ahmed Ali Nauman, Muhammad Sharif, Muhammad Islam, Simon Cousens, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: The eradication of poliovirus and improving routine immunization (RI) coverage rates present significant challenges in Pakistan. There is a need for interventions that focus on strengthening community engagement to improve routine immunization coverage. Our primary objective is to assess the impact of an integrated strategy designed to enhance community engagement and maternal and child health immunization campaigns on immunization coverage in Pakistan’s high-risk union councils of polio-endemic districts. Method: We implemented an integrated approach for routine immunization and maternal and child health in the polio-endemic district of Pakistan. This approach involved setting up health camps and actively engaging and mobilizing the local community. An independent team conducted surveys at three key points: baseline, midline, and endline, to evaluate immunization coverage among children under the age of five. The primary outcome measures for the study were coverage of OPV, IPV, and changes in the proportion of unvaccinated and fully vaccinated children. To select clusters and eligible households in each cluster, we utilized a 30 × 15 cluster sampling technique. Multivariable associations between socio-demographic factors and changes in the proportion of fully vaccinated children at the UC level were assessed using hierarchical linear regression models. Results: A total of 256,946 children under the age of five (122,950 at baseline and 133,996 at endline) were enrolled in the study. By the endline, full immunization coverage had increased to 60% or more in all three study areas compared to the baseline. Additionally, there was a significant increase in the coverage of both OPV and IPV across all three provinces at the endline. The full immunization rates were assessed on three levels of the framework: the distal, intermediate (access and environment), and proximal level (camp attendance and effectiveness). At the distal level, on multivariate analysis, family size was found to be a significant predictor of change in immunity within the families (β = 0.68; p ≤ 0.0001). At the intermediate level, the likelihood of full immunization decreased with the decrease in knowledge about vaccination (β = −0.38; p = 0.002), knowledge about polio vaccine (β = −0.25; p = 0.011), and knowledge about IPV (β = −0.06; p = 0.546). Perceived obstacles to vaccination were fear of adverse events (β = −0.4; p ≤ 0.0001) and lack of education (β = 0.23; p = 0.031), which were found to be significant in bivariate and multivariate analyses. At the proximal level, community mobilization (β = 0.26; p = 0.008) and attendance at health camp (β = 0.21; p ≤ 0.0001) were found to enhance full immunization coverage. On the other hand, the most prominent reason for not attending health camp included no need to attend the health camp as the child was not ill (β = −0.13; p = 0.008). Conclusions: This study found that community mobilization and attendance at health camps significantly enhanced full immunization coverage. The findings highlight the importance of community engagement and targeted interventions in improving immunization coverage and addressing barriers to healthcare seeking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number89
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Pakistan
  • childhood immunization
  • community engagement
  • mother and child health
  • polio eradication


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