At least a dozen children died of measles in Sindh and Balochistan on Friday, raising the death toll from the deadly viral disease to more than 200 since 2012.
Six deaths were reported in the lower Sindh coast while another three deaths were reported in the urban centres of the province. Most of the deaths caused by measles occurred in December 2012.
Sindh Health Minister Sagheer Ahmed has confirmed that over 200 children have already lost their lives. The minister, however, blamed some of the deaths on pneumonia and diarrhoea.
At least seven children have died of the viral disease in Shikarpur over the last 24 hours. The death toll in the city has reached 23, while 160 have fallen ill so far.
Three siblings became the latest victims of measles in Pishin district. The victims, identified as four-year-old Bibi Shanena, three-year-old Shezad Ahmed and six-month-old Ejaz Ahmed, were the children of Ghulam Mustafa of Killi Ismailzai in Pishin.
Sources said that measles had spread across several villages of Pishin and it was feared that dozens of children were infected by it. When contacted Health Secretary Asmatullah Kakar confirmed the outbreak of measles in Pishin saying the affected family routinely avoided vaccination of their children.
An anti measles vaccination campaign was carried out last month in Pishin under the supervision of District Health Officer Shah Jahan Panezai.
At least 16 children have been infected by the disease in Sibi. The disease has also spread to the urban centres of Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Karachi.
The health department was set to complete its vaccination programme by January 11. But the immunisation campaign has been hamstrung by a scarcity of vaccines in Shikarpur and several other cities and villages of Sindh.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2013.