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Anti-measles drive launched countrywide

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday launched the national immunization drive against measles, under which children aging nine months to five years will be vaccinated during October 15-27.

The President initiated the campaign here at the Poly Clinic Hospital as part of the government’s Expanded Programme of Immunization.

President Dr Alvi said around 34.6 million children would be vaccinated at outreach sites and public health facilities across the country.

He said given the high number of children that died or were affected by measles in the country, it was critical that all children from nine months to five years be vaccinated.

He said prevention was the best way to avert diseases as Pakistan could not afford heavy costs incurred on medical treatment. He mentioned that several communicable diseases could be prevented by mere adopting the routine of proper hand-washing.

The President appreciated the services of National Institute of Health (NIH) for production of vaccines.

Federal Minister for National Health Services Aamer Mehmood Kiani had met a high-level delegation of the Gavi vaccine alliance on Oct 4. He said it was among the top priorities of the government to ensure that children are vaccinated and protected from life-threatening diseases including measles.

The Gavi delegation shared that alliance has been supporting Pakistan with more than US $1.2 billion to strengthen Pakistan’s immunisation program, in addition to the provision of technical assistance at national and sub-national level by UNICEF and World Health Organisation (WHO).

Measles is a serious problem in Pakistan and in other countries through the world. During an outbreak in 2012-13, more than 500 children died of the disease in Pakistan.

Measles virus spreads from one child to another by coughing and sneezing, and even before a rash is seen. If left untreated, it could be deadly for children with the complications including severe weight loss, pneumonia, diarrhea, loss of vision, discharge from ears and convulsions that may lead to brain damage.

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