KARACHI – The World Health Organisation has announced that it is starting a large measles vaccination campaign targeting 2.9 million children in eight districts of Sindh as an emergency response to the outbreak in the province.
Figures collected from various official sources and surveys provide evidence of the current outbreak of measles in different parts of Pakistan resulting from insufficient rates of routine immunization coverage, the World Health Organization confirmed here on today.
The Country Representative of WHO in Pakistan, Dr. Guido Sabatinelli stated that the Government of Pakistan’s Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI), which is technically supported by WHO and UNICEF aims at protecting children aged 0-11 months by immunizing them against Childhood Tuberculosis, Poliomyelitis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Meningitis, Haemophilus influenzae and Measles.
The program also protects newborn against Neonatal Tetanus by giving TT vaccine to all pregnant mothers.
Unfortunately, as per the survey of Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement (PSLM–2010/11) Pakistan’s Routine Immunization Coverage does not meet the optimal Routine Immunization rate of more than 80 per cent. “Pakistan’s Routine Immunization Coverage is close to 65 per cent with only some important cities of Punjab recording a better performance,” the WHO Country Representative stated.
He said that the huge difference of Routine Immunization coverage between provinces, districts and cities is at the Root of the current Measles outbreaks.
The statement further adds that WHO is recommending adequate steps both on emergency and long-term basis to the provincial governments to ensure that Routine immunization coverage is made accessible to each and every child. “At an average, one single EPI vaccination center in a Union Council caters for a population of 20,000 to 30,000 which is simply not enough to cater for the total population of any Union Council,” remarked Dr Guido.
As an emergency response to the outbreak in Sindh, the Provincial Health Ministry had started a large Measles vaccination campaign targeting 2.9 million (29,00,000) children in eight districts of Sindh.
“Measles campaign has been planned between December 31, 2012 and January 9, 2013 for 8 districts in Sindh; Sukkur, Khairpur, Larkana, Qamber, Shadadkot, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Ghotki and Kashmore. During this campaign, children from the age of 9 months to 10 years will be vaccinated.
“A total of 1,300,000 vaccine doses have been dispatched by the National Authorities to the 8 districts,” stated Dr Sabatinelli.