LAHORE, Jan 21: Chief Minister’s Special Assistant on Health Khwaja Salman Rafique said on Monday seven children had died of measles while 1,476 cases of the disease had surfaced so far in the province in January.

Talking to the media after a meeting held to review the measles situation in the province, he said of the seven victims of the disease, one each died in Gujranwala and Kasur districts, while five others expired in Rajanpur district.

He said the health department had a stock of more than 1.2 million anti-measles doses, while two million doses were being procured through Unicef for which Rs243.7 million had already been paid. He hoped the consignment of the purchased doses would reach here within the next two weeks.

Mr Rafique said a vaccination campaign, in accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, was continuing in the areas from where measles cases were being reported, targeting children in six-month to 10-year age group.

Earlier, Mr Rafique informed the meeting that the Punjab government had decided to launch a social mobilisation campaign through the media to sensitise parents about the importance of preventive vaccination against measles for their children. He said at the district level, DCOs were being given the task of disease surveillance, supervising vaccination and monitoring of case reporting.

He warned that the health EDOs concerned would be held responsible for any lapse in disease-control measures and a strict legal action would also be initiated against those found guilty of dereliction of duty in this regard.

Health Secretary Arif Nadeem, Director General (Health) Dr Nisar Ahmed Cheema, EPI Director Dr Tanvir Husain, Health Additional Director General (Vector Born Disease) Dr Jaffar Ilyas, Dr Babar Alam of WHO, Mushtaq Rana of Unicef, Prof Tahir Masood, Dean Institute of Child Health/Children Hospital, Prof Dr Ashraf Sultan professor of Pediatrics of King Edward University, Prof Tariq Bhutta and Dr Akhtar Rashid Malik, Provincial Coordinator of Lady Health Worker Programme also attended the meeting.