Measles claimed the life of a three-year-old boy in a remote village of upper Swat, where 14 others were brought in with similar symptoms on Wednesday. The child was identified as Usman Ali, a resident of Shahoo village of Kalam.
Locals have blamed lack of doctors and unavailability of vaccines at local hospitals for the outbreak.
Attaur Rehman, a local of Kalam, complained that there is no mechanism to conduct vaccination drives in the area. Moreover, he said that due to lack of doctors and medicines at local hospitals, people are denied medical treatment, adding that serious patients have to cover a long distance to go to hospitals in Mingora for treatment.
Meanwhile, Expanded Programme for Immunisation (EPI) Coordinator Dr Anwar Jamal refuted these claims. He said that EPI teams routinely conduct door-to-door vaccination drives in all areas of upper Swat. “If a case of measles surfaces in the area, special vaccination campaigns are conducted there,” he added. He dismissed claims that there is a shortage of measles vaccine, adding that the EPI teams have stocked measles vaccines for over two months.
When contacted, Executive District Officer Health Dr Khurshid said he has directed the EPI coordinator to take immediate steps to control the situation. He said that in addition to regular teams, emergency teams have been dispatched to conduct vaccination drives in the area. So far, 350 children in the area have been vaccinated, he added.
Just two months back, a more pronounced outbreak of measles was reported in Kalam in which over 100 children were affected. Locals had blamed the lack of doctors and “weak” immunisation campaigns for the outbreak.
They maintained that the Central Hospital in Kalam lacks the required health facilities.
They had asked the health department to establish permanent vaccination centres in Kalam – a demand that remains to be fulfilled.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2012.
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