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A preventable tragedy


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WHAT started off as an epidemic in upper Sindh is fast turning into a national health emergency. According to the World Health Organisation, over 100 children have died countrywide of measles-related complications in the first three weeks of this month. Most of the deaths have been in Sindh, yet fatalities from Balochistan and Punjab have also been reported. There have been over 90 measles outbreaks in Pakistan since the beginning of this year, while thousands of children remain at risk. The epidemic became particularly acute in the last few weeks of 2012; over 300 deaths were reported. If we compare the figures for the whole of last year and those of the first three weeks this month, the magnitude of the problem becomes clear. In Sindh especially, malnourishment in children and the effects of back-to-back floods have been blamed for the high death toll. Yet along with poverty and natural disasters, human ineptitude is a major factor in aggravating the situation. There have been issues with service delivery in Sindh, as reports have indicated that vaccinators have not been performing and have fudged figures, leading to legitimate questions being raised about the government’s claims regarding immunisation coverage.

Clearly, the state took the problem lightly when it was emerging, despite the fact that medical professionals had warned that a disaster was in the making. Even now, when the magnitude of the crisis is apparent, the state is unmoved. It appears the death of a few hundred children due to a preventable illness is not an issue for those in power, who are too preoccupied with the machinations of politics. This callous attitude needs to change immediately. A national emergency must be declared and a plan of action to deal with the measles epidemic launched forthwith. All children in areas deemed vulnerable must be immunised, with strict surveillance to ensure that no one is left out. In the long term, the routine immunisation programme must be overhauled and regular public-awareness campaigns highlighting the importance of immunisation should be undertaken so that such a tragedy does not repeat itself.

Comments (3) Closed

Irshad Ahmed Kagzi Jan 26, 2013 06:55am
Federal And Sindh Govt: are no respond to this critical issue, children have lose the life. In rural Sindh no sufficient and good health provide the residence. Karachi has so many health facilities, but here is nothing yet.
Muhammad Huzaif Jan 26, 2013 04:11am
On whose heads are the deaths of these innocent children. The ruling party with its intermittently used slogan of "Roti, Kapra and Makan" has failed to provide these basis necessities to people and shamefully none of their ruler has throughout these five years resigned on moral grounds. Also the great independent media fully supports and appreciates the democracy which is just a facade to cover up the corruption, menaces and injustices of these power hungry rulers. Can this democratic process bring peace, justice, povery eradication and prosperity to this nation or we are going to see the same faces as our rulers again.
mazharuddin Jan 25, 2013 04:53am
The rulers who destroyed the wealth of this country by corruption, nepotism etc. are the responsible of this large scale poverty that caused peoples' suffering with diseases due to low calorie diet that disrupted their immune system. Money is being spent on ceremonies and remembering old dead people and building their mausoleum, with having their (religious yearly ceremony) URS, inviting people to enjoy ritual food on such ceremonies and remember old dead leaders, poor people being invited to enjoy food and being encouraged to landgrabbing. It is very shame, government unable to provide work and make ways to have jobs. Political party workers consider their rights on government jobs, stage sit-in etc. and ruling party efforts to provide them the required job by denouncing merit. God has given huge resources on earth for mankind but unfortunately the rulers of this region since very beginning committing injustices that causing huge suffering of population. Need to return all looted money in government treasury, jobs should be provided to righteous on merit, eradicate party politics that destroying provinces and country. In this country justice and equity should prevail, honest and able people should rule.