Rawalpindi battles measles spurt

Spike in unvaccinated children triggers emergency immunisation drive

Jamil Mirza January 30, 2024


The Rawalpindi district is witnessing a surge in the number of children affected by measles and pneumonia, exacerbating their predicament due to a shortage of hospital beds.

This critical situation is aggravated by the winter season, which poses a higher risk of contracting these illnesses among children.

Responding to the escalating incidence of these diseases, the District Health Authority (DHA) has launched a comprehensive vaccination campaign to combat measles. Affected children are receiving vaccines, and a proactive approach involves examining children in 30 neighbouring households for the disease and administering vaccinations as necessary.

Simultaneously, a booster dose is being provided to children who have not previously been vaccinated against measles. The vulnerability of children aged six months to five years is heightened during cold weather, further emphasising the urgency of preventive measures. Dr Muhammad Ali, the District Surveillance Coordinator, highlighted the increased activity of measles germs during winter, contributing to the rise in affected children. He stated, “Measles has shown a similar trend this year as compared to the previous one, with an upsurge in cases.”

Children afflicted with measles and pneumonia are being brought to Benazir Bhutto General Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital in Rawalpindi. Dr Ali noted that children arriving from areas like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are particularly susceptible to the diseases, posing challenges to the case response due to their status as guests in Rawalpindi city.

ReadEight die of suspected measles outbreak

Dr Tahir Rizvi, the Medical Superintendent of Benazir Bhutto General Hospital, emphasised the increasing admissions of children with measles and pneumonia. He assured that prompt treatment initiation is a priority for these cases.

Dr Ehsan Ghani, the District Health Officer for Preventive Services, acknowledged the continuous reporting of both confirmed and suspected measles cases. He emphasised the immediate testing and initiation of treatment upon diagnosis.

Highlighting the effectiveness of vaccination, Dr Ghani stated, “Children vaccinated at the right age are, 95 per cent of the time, protected from measles. The vaccine plays a crucial role in preventing measles cases.” He underscored that a significant number of affected children, particularly from outside the district, had not received measles vaccination, making them more vulnerable.

Dr Ejaz Ahmed, the Chief Executive Officer of the District Health Authority, emphasised the ongoing treatment of children with measles while underscoring the importance of vaccination as a preventive measure against the disease. He emphasised that measles can be averted through timely and widespread vaccination efforts.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2024.


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