KARACHI - The recent measles outbreak in different parts of the country, resulting in deaths of hundreds of children has exposed the weak routine immunisation system in Pakistan in general and Sindh in particular.

Pakistan is among the ten countries that account for almost two-third of the world’s un-immunised children. There are 53 per cent of children in Sindh who had not received the vaccine despite its availability; Child Rights Movement (CRM), Sindh chapter stated in its report released here on Tuesday.

The reports said that the huge difference in routine immunisation coverage between the provinces, districts and cities which is at the root of measles outbreak in Pakistan. Prominent consultant pediatricians have put the blame of over 300 under-five child deaths due to measles, on mismanagement at district level, neglect of routine immunisation and lack of awareness among parents regarding routine immunization highlights the press release.

WHO presented a report to the government which stated that the primary reason for the outbreak was a failure to complete the immunization programme. The report also confirmed that the country’s continuous struggle with a fraught health care system, unsanitary conditions in many regions, and lack of education about how to prevent from the disease contributed towards this outbreak as well. It is high time for the government of Pakistan, provincial governments, donor agencies and the civil society to respond to the situation effectively and take steps that strengthen the routine immunization system in Pakistan on a sustainable basis which will also help eradicate polio from the country, stated the Coordinator Child Rights Movement Sindh chapter.

The CRM recommended the government and the donor agencies to launch a high quality widespread vaccination campaign against measles across the province and ensuring the availability of vaccines at vaccination centres to eradicate the disease from the province.

The government and the donor agencies should launch awareness rising campaigns to highlight the importance of routine immunisation and to get the children vaccinated with two doses to eliminate the chances of them contracting the viral disease; report proposed, adding that there are approximately 10,000 vaccinators throughout Pakistan, strongly limiting the immunization coverage. The Sindh government needs to increase the number of vaccinators so that there is one vaccinator for every 5,000 people in order to reach sufficient numbers of children.

In the meantime, it is essential for the provincial government to use and expand the set of responsibilities of LHWs to include the administration of vaccinations particularly in the uncovered areas and poor quintiles.

Society for Protection of the Rights of Child informed that Pakistan is among the ten countries that account for almost two thirds of the world’s un-immunised children. He said that 53 percent of children in the province of Sindh had not received the vaccine despite its availability.