In a bid to protect the children from measles and rubella, the Sindh government has decided to launch the world’s largest immunization drive against contagious diseases in the province from November 15.
As many as 38 children have died from measles in the province so far during the current year. During the 12-day vaccination drive, 19 million children from 9 months to 15 years old would be given mandatory shots of measles and rubella vaccine, officials said Monday.
In addition to this, two drops of polio will also be given to 8 million children under five years of age in this campaign.
Measles, which is one of the most contagious diseases in the world, has so far claimed 38 lives in Sindh in the first nine months of the current year alone while 2,489 cases were reported in the province.
“To prevent more deaths, every child would be given a shot of Measles and Rubella vaccine from November 15-27, 2021 in the province,” Project Director of Expanded Program (EPI) Dr Irshad Memon on Immunization (EPI) told the media.
Accompanied by Director General Health Sindh Dr Juman Bahoto, renowned paediatrician Dr Khalid Shafi, Director Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority Dr Durre Naz, Dr Ahmed Ali Shaikh and others, EPI Project Director urged parents to get their children up to 15 years of age vaccinated.
“Both the viral diseases – measles and rubella are vaccine-preventable diseases. But if the vaccine is not given against them to children, they can lead to death, blindness, pneumonia and infection of the brain and other permanent disabilities,” Dr Irshad Memon said and urged the media to support the drive in the province.
He maintained that the new Measles-Rubella vaccine would be used during the vaccination campaign in all Union Councils of Sindh with a target of 18.6 million children with the support of its technical partners, UNICEF and WHO.
To make this campaign successful, EPI has engaged a huge workforce including more than 15,000 Skilled Immunization Staff (Vaccinators, Medical Technicians and Lady Health Visitors); 43,624 non-skilled staff to assist during the campaign; around 3,265 supervisors for monitoring. Doctors from public and private hospitals have also been engaged to assist with the campaign, in collaboration with the Pakistan Pediatrics Association.
There is a strong collaboration with religious leaders, education departments, media and civil society organizations to ensure that the maximum target for the campaign is achieved.Dr Khalid Shafi, Secretary-General of Pakistan Pediatric Association, stated that the EPI is offering free of cost vaccines against 12 preventable diseases.
“Low immunization coverage on the other hand has an adverse effect on the other health interventions for mothers and children. The push to prioritise immunization is essential in providing equitable access to essential vaccines for all children and save more lives,” Dr Durre Naz added.