Having declared a war on measles, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif presided over a meeting on Sunday to review the situation arising due to the outbreak of the disease in the province and discuss measures to be taken by the government.
Shortly after taking over office, Sharif had announced that public health was one of his government’s priorities. He said measles would be eradicated the same way as the dengue fever had been dealt with.
At the meeting, Sharif directed the officials concerned to ensure that the necessary steps were taken expeditiously to protect the children from measles.
He said he would personally review the situation every week. He directed the provincial chief secretary to preside over a review meeting on the measles situation every day.
“The day should begin with a meeting on measles.”
Expressing his grief over deaths due to measles, the chief minister said he would try his best that no more lives were lost.
“With collective efforts, we will defeat measles the way we defeated dengue fever.”
He said all it took was a coordinated programme. He said it was not the time to sit idle.
Sharif said a comprehensive immunisation campaign would be launched in all Punjab districts to protect children against measles. He said that it would be unfortunate if the institutions concerned remained idle while the children continued to suffer.
Sharif also approved for an action plan for protecting children from measles and for provision of best treatment facilities at all public hospitals. He directed the Health Department to plan on war footing vigorous campaign against measles.
He said the planners must keep the dengue fever campaign in their minds. He directed them to utilise the modern database system devised by the Punjab Information Technology Board to record data of all patients.
He ordered the Health Department to start the vaccination campaign at union council level so that no child was missed. He told the officials not to worry about funds. He said the department should accelerate the process of purchase of measles vaccine from its own resources without waiting for international donors. He said the problem of malnutrition in children should also be taken seriously so that they develop resistance against diseases.
He said it was the parliamentarians’ responsibility to monitor the situation in their areas on daily basis. He said that elected representatives should also review arrangements for the treatment of affected children at hospitals.
He expressed indignation at the failure to promptly launch an immunisation campaign against measles on time and timely purchase of the vaccine and constituted a three-member inquiry committee to look into its reasons. The committee would be headed by Home Secretary Shahid Khan. It has been told to submit its report by Tuesday.
Later briefing the meeting, the health secretary said 15,998 children in the Punjab had been affected by measles. He said nine new cases were reported on Sunday. Of these, three were from Lahore. He said the vaccination campaign against measles will be launched in 12 districts from June 24 to July 4. He said that vitamin A capsules will also be given to children during the anti-measles campaign to help them develop immunity.
MNAs and MPAs Khwaja Saad Rafique, Pervaiz Malik, Malik Riaz, Afzal Khokhar, Mehr Ishtiaq Ahmed, Sohail Shoukat Butt, Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan, Syed Zaeem Hussain Qadri, Chief Secretary Javed Aslam, the schools education secretary, the Lahore commissioner, the King Edward Medical University vice chancellor and the district coordination officer were also present at the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2013.
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