Three more children died of measles on Wednesday and 124 new cases were admitted to public hospitals in the city.
One-year-old Iqra, two-year-old Fizza, and seven-months-old Ijaz died of the disease at Mayo Hospital.
“In addition to the infection, the kids were suffering from malnutrition,” a Mayo Hospital doctor said.
He said, “There is not much a doctor can do with a measles patient. No particular drugs are administered, except vitamin A.”
He said the mortality rate of children suffering from measles as well as malnutrition was around 40 per cent. If a patient developed complications, he or she may easily end up in a critical condition.
Caretaker Health Minister Salima Hashmi paid a surprise visit to Mayo Hospital on Wednesday and inquired about the affected children. She also asked the parents of the children about the treatment the children were receiving.
Hashmi visited paediatric ward of Mayo Hospital without prior notice. She visited the paediatric emergency, the ICU and the High Dependency Unit.
The duty doctors briefed the minister about the condition of the children under treatment. Head of the paediatric department Prof Dr Ashraf Sultan gave a detailed briefing to the minister.
Talking to media representatives later, the minister said that the media had played an important and effective role in spreading awareness and informing the people about contagious diseases such as measles. She said it was because of the media that more people were bringing their children to the hospitals for treatment.
Hashmi said there was a need to launch a mass immunisation campaign against measles not only in the Punjab but all over the country. She said the Punjab government had taken the initiative in this regard and the Health Department was planning to launch a campaign soon.
She said the top most priority of any government should be to provide healthcare facilities to children but ‘unfortunately’ not much had been spent on healthcare in Pakistan.
“If we want to give a healthy future to Pakistan we have to spend much more on the health sector particularly to reduce infant mortality,” she said.
Hashmi urged the media to emphasise the parents’ obligation to get their children vaccinated against preventable diseases. She said that this facility was being provided by the government under the EPI programme.
In reply to a question, Hashmi said children were equally precious irrespective of whether they were from the Punjab or Sindh. She said all provinces should evolve special programmes to save the lives of children and increase medical facilities for them.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2013.