LAHORE - T­wo more kids died of measles on Wednesday a day after the Lahore High Court warned to hold responsible the Punjab chief minister and health minister for measles death. The deaths brought the toll to 153 in the province.

One measles patient lost his life at Bahawalnagar while another died in Bahawalpur.

As many as 208 measles patients were admitted to different hospitals in the province including 39 in Lahore. So far 17254 measles cases have been reported from across the province including 5088 in Lahore.

 “The new government has been formed, and the distribution of sweets has also been ended. Now, the Punjab chief minister and the health minister would be accountable for any measles death,” Justice Muhammad Khalid Mahmood Khan remarked on Tuesday while hearing a petition over the issue.

“Every day, two or three children die measles. The rulers should stop distributing sweets and should pay attention to their work,” the court observed, directing that practical steps should be take to overcome the problem.

The judge rebuked Health Director General Dr Tanvir as he told the court that the government was “taking steps to control the epidemic”.

The Health DG appeared in the court and submitted a report about government steps, claiming that vaccination had brought down measles deaths. However, the court rejected the report as the all-is-well account. The court ordered the health director general to submit a detailed report on June 13.

As public sector hospitals are overburdened due to influx of such a huge number of measles, gastro and diarrhoea patients, people are approaching private healthcare centres for treatment of their dear and near ones. Lack of beds is not the only problem faced by patients at government hospitals, necessary medicines are not available and people are forced to purchase even syringes from the market.

Secretary Health Punjab Hassan Iqbal has said that strengthening of BHUs and RHCs was necessary for the success of primary healthcare system for which restructuring of the department was essential.

Chairing a meeting held on Wednesday to review measles situation in Punjab, he said that every DHQ and THQ hospitals have pediatricians and these should not refer the measles patients to Lahore unnecessarily.

Besides, Commissioner and DCO Lahore Naseem Nawaz and Naseem Sadiq, Vice Chancellor King Edward Medical University Prof Faisal Masood, Director General Health Punjab Dr Tanvir Ahmed, Additional Secretary Health (Technical) Dr Anwar Janjua, WHO’s immunization Consultant Prof Tariq Bhutta, Dr Aslam Chaudhary from Bill Gates Foundation, Director Health EPI Dr Munir Ahmed, Chairman PITB Umar Saif were present in the meeting. Former Special Assistant to Chief Minister Kh Salman Rafique especially attended the meeting.

Hassan Iqbal said that the restructuring of health department and bringing it in order was essential to enhance its efficiency. He said that 60 percent of health sector consisted of preventive and 40 percent curative but the government was spending 90 percent of health budget on the treatment side. He said that health managers did not pay due attention to the preventive side. He said that all the additional as well as deputy secretaries should monitor the treatment facilities for the measles patients in the government hospitals of Lahore. He said that regular public awareness activities were necessary to check the spread of diseases. He said that people should realize that the vaccination of their children was important for saving their lives. The meeting was informed that the effects of the last month’s anti-measles campaign in Lahore were being witnessed as the cases were decreasing whereas 90 percent patients were coming from other districts. DG Health informed that guidelines prepared by a high level committee consisting of senior consultants for the treatment and management of measles patients were being sent to the districts as well as Tehsil Headquarter hospitals. Medical Director Children Hospital Prof Ehsan Waheed Rathor said that measles patients could be treated at district hospitals as all the facilities were available at local level but unfortunately these hospitals refers the children to Lahore. He said that due to long hours traveling not only the condition of the patients becomes serious but the poor parents have to bear the traveling expenditures. Moreover, the city’s teaching hospitals are already overburdened.