LAHORE  - Campaign against measles will be launched in Punjab in April this year during which around 30 million children of nine months to ten years of age will be vaccinated. Over Rs 3 billion will be spent for this purpose.

This was informed at a meeting of steering committee on anti-measles presided over by Special Secretary Health Punjab Babar Hayat Tarar on Friday. Director General Health Punjab Dr Zahid Pervaiz, Additional Secretary Health (Estab) Muhammad Khan Ranjha, Prof Tariq Bhutta, Prof Farkhanda Kaukab, WHO representative in Punjab Dr Ubaid, UNICEF representatives Dr Rana Mushtaq, Dr Tahir Manzoor, Director Health EPI Dr Munir Ahmed and concerned officers were present.

The meeting was informed that GAVI would contribute 16.79 million dollars while the Punjab government would pay 14.69 million dollars for the campaign and the anti-measles vaccine of international standard will be purchased through UNICEF.

The meeting reviewed polio and measles situation in the province during 2013 and expressed concern that it was not a good year with regard to both the diseases. The meeting took a number of decisions while reviewing EPI programme. Director General Health Punjab told that written orders were being sent to EDOs health of all districts, warning them that stern action would be taken in case of bogus entry in the coverage report of routine EPI.

The meeting also took notice of irresponsible attitude and dereliction of duty by the staff during routine immunization and anti-measles and polio campaign and made it clear that no leniency would be shown to inefficient officers or staff. Dr Zahid Pervaiz said that Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has issued strict instructions to health department to adopt a transparent policy.

He said that search committees comprising retired, in service senior officers and doctors have been constituted for the posting of district level officers and medical superintendents of teaching hospitals which have started working. He further told that government would spend a sum of Rs 1.5 billion on the vaccination programme against nine diseases during the current year and the entire process would be closely monitored.

Special Secretary Health Babar Hayat Tarar submitted the proposal of conducting a detailed third party survey of EPI coverage by the Institute of Public Health which was approved by the meeting.