PESHAWAR: Health department on Monday launched a six-day immunisation drive against measles in 11 districts of the province to safeguard children against the rapidly spreading childhood vaccine-preventable ailment.

The campaign was inaugurated by Health Minister Syed Qasim Ali Shah at Maulvi Jee Hospital. The inauguration ceremony was also attended by the director-general health services, Dr Mohammad Salim Khan, the director of expanded programme on immunisation, Dr Mohammad Arif Khan, the president of Pakistan Paediatric Association, Dr Mohammad Hussain, and Unicef’s Dr Inamullah Khan.

The minister said that immunisation was the only way to safeguard children against diseases. He said that measles was one of the killer ailments that harmed unvaccinated children. He said that parents should vaccinate their children during the campaign in high-risk districts. “People can give jabs to their children during the campaign or they can visit EPI centres in hospitals,” he added.

Six-day campaign against the childhood ailment launched in 11 districts

Mr Shah said that the drive was meant to reach to all children in the target districts. In the past few months, outbreaks of measles had been recorded, which killed many children but such mortalities were totally avoidable provided parents vaccinated their children, he said.

Dr Mohammad Arif Khan said on the occasion that the campaign would target children of six to 59 months to protect them against measles. He said 882,000 children would be vaccinated in Nowshera, Swabi, Hangu, Karak, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Dir Upper and Lower, Malakand and Charsadda.

The disease, he said, was spreading fast in the province. He said that parents should ensure full dosage of vaccination of their children to protect them in future. The childhood disease infected about 1,400 children and killed 13 in the past one year, he added.

Dr Mohammad Salim Khan, Dr Inamullah Khan and medical superintendent of Maulvi Jee Hospital Dr Akram Shah also spoke on the occasion.

Dr Mohammad Hussain said that the symptoms of measles included fever and a typical red rash. He said that sometimes the disease could cause serious complications including effect on the brain, breathing problems, diarrhoea and even death.

He said that the disease was on the rise in Peshawar as about 25 per cent of the total ailing children visiting hospitals were infected by measles and 10 to 15 per cent of them needed hospitalisation.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2024

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