By Karamat Ali
Protecting the children from serious diseases through immunisation is a simple and effective way because it not only helps protect your child but also saves other children on a larger scale by reducing the threat of the disease spread.
The measles is a highly contagious, serious disease caused by a virus and it can be fatal. In 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles caused more than two million deaths each year.
It spreads through the air when measles patient coughs or sneezes. One in five people infected with measles develop complications like an ear infection, pneumonia, and swelling of the brain.
The best protection against measles is through immunisation whereas measles vaccine is very effective and safe. Its vaccine saved millions of lives globally.
These views were expressed by Dr Mazhar Qureshi, National Provincial Officer Punjab of the World Health Organisation (WHO) here on Tuesday.
He said disease remained one of the leading causes of death among young children the world over before the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
According to WHO, the number of measles-related deaths has been decreased by 79% from 5,46,800 at the beginning of the century to 89, 780 in 2016.
The data revealed that the measles outbreak followed a regular pattern when no vaccine was available, measles outbreaks followed every other year. With the introduction of the vaccine, this interval increased but outbreaks were unavoidable unless a mass immunization campaign was conducted at regular intervals whereas the province of Punjab faced a huge epidemic in 2012-13.
The data further revealed that a mass immunization campaign was conducted in the province in 2013 and early 2015 which resulted in a gross reduction of cases from 25000 in 2013 to 21 in 2015.
“When routine vaccination was increased substantially during last few years, but it wasn’t enough to prevent outbreaks. Confirmed measles cases were started increasing gradually and it reached upto 963 in 2017. To prevent a mass outbreak, it is necessary to conduct a mass immunization campaign this year,” data revealed. Dr Qureshi said that Punjab Health Department decided to give a dose of measles vaccine to all children of age six months to less than seven years of age because this age group is different to the age group which is being targeted in other provinces.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) is providing support to Pakistan for children of age nine months to less than five years, he said, adding that Punjab government has decided to pour more resources from the domestic budget and vaccinate broader age group children.
He further said that around 20 million children would be given one shot of measles vaccine whereas for accomplishing this, some as many as 11711 teams would reach in every village and Mohalla from 15 October to 27 October, who would establish more than 15 lac vaccination stations and vaccinate the children.
Dr Mazhar Qureshi appealed the parents to bring their children at those nearest stations and get them vaccinated. Parents can also get their children vaccinated from 3941 hospitals and health centres, he added.
He maintained that the government of Punjab has established a comprehensive monitoring mechanism to monitor closely vaccination activities at grass root level. Around 5,000 supervisors from the district and provincial staff would monitor the campaign and in addition, WHO and UNICEF staff would also be deputed to monitor the activity.