Measles outbreak: 9 kids die in K-P and FATA in two weeks

Doctors blame poor vaccination campaigns, military conflict, migration and malnutrition.


Noor Shah June 06, 2012

PESHAWAR:


As many as nine children from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) have died of measles during the last two weeks, it has been learnt.


Around 211 children with symptoms of measles were brought to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) from different areas of in K-P and Fata during the last two weeks, a majority of them have been discharged. However, 25 patients are being treated in isolation wards, hospital sources told The Express Tribune on Tuesday.

Six children who died of measles at the LRH – identified as Bushra, Shah, Fawad, Zainab, Habiba, and Suhaima  – were between 14 months to two years of age. Three children: Saira, Ibrahim, and another girl, died of measles in Shabqadar, Charsadda.

According to hospital sources, a total of 989 cases of measles were brought to the LRH during the last six months, of which 884 were discharged, 44 died, and nine left against doctors’ advice.

“Four of my children got measles last month, but by the grace of God they have all recovered after treatment,” said the wife of Abdul Hanan, holding her four-month-old son, Zaid, who is now her fifth child to have contracted the disease.

Muhammad Saleem, a resident of Inayat Kalay, Bajaur Agency, who brought his two-year old son for treatment, claimed he has spent Rs7,000 on his son’s treatment. “I am a man with meagre means; this treatment is unaffordable for me,” said Saleem, adding that the treatment cost might escalate.

LRH Children Ward In-charge Dr Gul Faraz said the hospital is mainly providing antibiotics and vitamin-A drops to the patients; however, people are being asked to buy the more costly medicine, Immune Globulin, on their own. Immune Globulin is an intramuscular drug that costs around Rs6,000 in the market.

A study conducted by Dr Majid Khan and Dr Tariq Anwar of the LRH, from November 1, 2011, to May 22 this year, reveals that the measles outbreak in K-P and Fata is a result of poor vaccination campaigns, military conflict, migration and malnutrition in the area.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Khan explained that measles is an infectious viral disease that can easily spread through migrating people, especially if they have weak immunity due to inadequate food intake. It onsets with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough and runny nose, followed by Koplik’s spots  on the face, which then spread all over the body.

He said the hospital has received children as young as four months suffering from measles, adding that it is a “serious issue”.

He explained that children younger than nine months do not get measles as they have antibodies transmitted from their mothers during pregnancy. This shows that the mothers did not get proper food, he noted. He added that measles can be fatal in patients below nine months of age and above 20 years, as there is risk of the virus reaching the brain.

Published In The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2012. 

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