Dr. Jaishri Mehraj, Pakistan

Since March 2016, Dr. Jaishri Mehraj has worked as a Senior Epidemiologist at the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) for polio eradication and immunization in the Sindh province of Pakistan. She is particularly passionate about addressing vaccine-preventable diseases and emerging infections that lead to thousands of deaths each year in Pakistan and recognizes the importance of public health immunization programs that can save the lives of millions.

In her current role, Dr. Jaishri provides technical assistance to the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) program of Pakistan in the Sindh province. Over the past 7 years, she has worked to strengthen various units of the program including data management, monitoring and evaluation, surveillance, operational research, the high-risk and mobile populations. Now, she analyzes epidemiological and programmatic data collected through the PEI program, including that which relates to wild poliovirus and vaccine-derived poliovirus. In addition, she supports epidemiological investigations, surveillance training, internal district surveillance reviews, outbreak investigations, research, and the capacity building of public health professionals across Pakistan. She has supervised several Master of Public Health graduate students on thesis projects related to vaccination and immunization.

Recently, Dr. Jaishri and her team published the results of their current research on vaccine hesitancy among high-risk populations in Karachi, Pakistan in an international journal. Vaccine hesitancy is the main obstacle to the success of immunization programs in Pakistan, and convincing the public of the benefits of immunization is a major challenge for public health professionals and policymakers in the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases. She hopes that her findings will support policymakers and concerned stakeholders in developing strategies to minimize polio vaccine refusal. Over the next year, she plans to assess the impact of health camps on vaccine coverage and design strategies for robust surveillance systems across Pakistan.