LAHORE -

One more kid died of measles at a Lahore hospital on Monday, taking the death toll in Lahore to 82. So far 148 measles patients have died in the province.

As many as 69 measles patients were admitted to different hospitals in Lahore. Out of 69 new cases, 22 were reported from the Mayo Hospital, 19 from the Children’s Hospital, 6 from the Jinnah Hospital and 22 from other public sector and private hospitals of Lahore. So far 16,816 measles cases had been reported from across the province, including 5,090 in Lahore.

After having wreaked in Sindh, measles has been on killing spree in Punjab and populists politicians, both from the government and the opposition, have been on ceremonial celebrations.

Punjab lost more than seven kids to the monster the last week ... the deaths were reported from the hospital of capital of the most ‘developed and populous province. Lahore and its suburbs were the worst hit where the government ‘successfully’ concluded a nine-day vaccination campaign on May 9.

At a briefing on Monday, Punjab Health Secretary Hassan Iqbal directed experts of the health department to take steps for controlling epidemic diseases. Special Secretary Health Babar Hayat Tarar, Additional Secretary Health (Technical) Dr Anwar Janjua, Director General Health Dr Tanvir Ahmed, Director EPI Dr Munir Ahmed and representative of Bill Gates Foundation Dr Aslam Chaudhary attended the briefing.

The secretary stressed the need for evolving a dual system for checking and monitoring of the EPI Programme so that routine immunisation could be checked properly. He urged the Executive District Officers Health to work independently and avoid waiting instructions from the Headquarter. He directed that the boards regarding immunisation of children should be displayed for the guidance of people at basic health centres across the province. He directed that special attention should be paid to the vaccination of children residing in katcha areas, gypsy localities, border areas and rural areas during anti-measles campaign.

The meeting was told that special anti-measles campaign would be launched from June 24 in Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Okara, Kasur, Mianwali, Bhakkar, Layyah, Muzaffargarh, DG Khan, Rajanpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Sialkot, Narowal, Toba Tek Singh, Chiniot, Sargodha and Jhang districts during which children from the age of six months to ten years would be inoculated.

The secretary directed that banners for creating public awareness regarding measles campaign should be displayed with the cooperation of the DCOs and Commissioners outside hospitals. He directed that special attention should be paid to the treatment of measles patients at all hospitals. He said examination of measles patients should be ensured by senior doctors in isolation wards.

In January, a PPP minister admitted in the Senate that ‘poor handling’ resulted in the outbreak of measles, which killed 232 children in 11 districts of Sindh. He praised the governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for ‘better management’.

The government plans to launch a drive in rest of the province in June, despite clear warnings from the health experts that a piecemeal campaign will seriously compromise its effectiveness.