As many as 17 senior and junior officials of the provincial health department were suspended on Friday after the committee investigating child fatalities reportedly due to the measles vaccine submitted its report.
Addressing a news conference at the Civil Secretariat on Friday, Minister for Health Shahram Khan Tarakai said Tariq, an Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) technician, Majid, a supervisor, and Zarif, a helper, had been suspended after the enquiry report held them responsible for the deaths of four children in the provincial capital during the measles vaccination campaign.
Furthermore, Tarakai suspended EPI Provincial Coordinator Dr Janbaz Khan Afridi over “failure to run the measles campaign smoothly.”
The minister added the enquiry committee’s report showed several officials of government hospitals were negligent in their duties while dealing with children brought to the hospital after fainting from the vaccine.
Thus, nine senior hospital officials were also suspended including Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) Medical Officer (MO) Dr Sher Aslam, Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) MO Dr Mudassir Shehzad, Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) Junior Registrar Dr Ahmad Saeed, LRH Associate Professor Dr Afzal Khattak, LRH senior registrars Dr Faridullah Shah, Dr Rahida Kaeem, Dr Mohsin Hayat and Dr Ameer Muhammad, as well as HMC Associate Professor Dr Younis Paracha.
The health minister added that the Post Graduate Medical Institute (PGMI) has been asked to impose a lifelong ban on four trainee doctors for “their failure to provide proper treatment to children brought to the hospital.” These include LRH training medical officers (TMO) Arif, Fazle Ahad, Fakhruddin and HMC TMO Asif Siddiqui.
According to Tarakai, the chief minister will announce a compensation of Rs0.5 million for parents of the four deceased children.
An increasing count
Meanwhile, an EPI report available with The Express Tribune states that in the first week of June, 427 measles cases were reported across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
The report which comes at the heels of the government’s 12-day measles vaccination campaign says that till the second week of June, 5,188 cases of measles had been reported this year. A total of 109 children have died of measles in various hospitals, the report adds.
Around 100 children died in Peshawar, four in Torghar, two each in Karak and Tank and one in Shangla.
Out of 427 confirmed cases, 194 were from Peshawar, 11 from Abbottabad, 40 from Bannu, four from Battagram, five from Buner, four from Charsadda, 23 from DI Khan, 10 from Lower Dir, two from Upper Dir, 12 from Haripur, 25 from Karak, six from Kohat, nine from Malakand, 15 from Mansehra, 42 from Mardan, 15 from Nowshera, four from Shangla and six from Tank.
“Seventy percent of the infected children who died had not received a single dose of the vaccine, despite a massive vaccination drive in K-P,” the EPI report states.
The K-P government concluded a 12-day measles vaccination on May 31 during which hundreds of children fainted after receiving the shot while nearly 10 children died in reported reactions to the vaccine.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2014.