The file image shows a health worker prepares a vaccine against measles. – Reuters Photo

ISLAMABAD: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has started 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.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the WHO representative in Pakistan, Dr. Guido Sabatinelli said that during this campaign, children from the age of nine months to 10 years will be vaccinated.

“Measles campaign has been planned between 31st December 2012 and 9th Jan, 2013 for eight districts in Sindh; Sukkur, Khairpur, Larkana, Qamber-Shadadkot, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Ghotki and Kashmore”, he said.

“A total of 1,300,000 vaccine doses have been dispatched by the national authorities to the 8 districts,” stated Dr. Sabatinelli.

About the immunisation in Pakistan, he said “Pakistan's routine immunisation coverage is close to 65 per cent with only some important cities recording a better performance”.

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 immunisation 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,” remarked Dr. Guido.

He stated that the government of Pakistan's Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI), which is technically supported by WHO and Unicef aims at protecting children aged 0-1 months by immunising 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.

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