Ten more children lost their lives due to an outbreak of measles in Punjab is news heard most frequently nowadays.
Pakistan is among the countries whose two-thirds of the population is of unimmunized children. Recent statistics reveal that more than 3000 cases of measles have been reported in past few months in Punjab causing many deaths. Deaths are not only reported in Punjab but also in Sindh and Baluchistan.
Measles is a viral disease including symptoms like fever, cough, rash, running nose etc. This disease can be prevented by vaccinating the children against this disease. The children are given vaccines by the age of 18 months and the other dose is recommended at the age of four or five years. It is a dangerous disease common among children. The transmission of measles virus to healthy children has increased manifold in last few months and is steadily increasing causing a fatal threat to their lives.
Fraught healthcare system, unsanitary conditions, neglect of routine immunization and lack of education and awareness regarding immunization programs are the causes that contributed to the outbreak of measles in Pakistan. The World Health Organization presented a report which clearly indicates that the root of measles outbreak is the failure to complete routine immunization coverage among provinces, districts and cities of Pakistan.
Hundreds of the children dying of the disease are an alarming situation that needs an immediate remedy. Government of Pakistan, donor agencies and civil society should take immediate steps to control the situation. High-quality vaccination campaigns should be started targeting uncovered areas and ensuring the availability of vaccines at vaccination centers. There is a desperate need to increase immunization coverage by increasing the number of vaccinators. Poor families did not vaccinate their children as they cannot afford it so federal and the provincial government should step forward and provide specific resources to scale up routine immunization.