KARACHI - Sindh Minister for Health Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho on Saturday inaugurated a measles campaign in Sindh that would continue until October 27.

The inauguration ceremony was held at KMC dispensary in Gizri where the minister was joined by Health Secretary Dr Muhammad Usman Chachar, Project Director of EPI Sindh Dr Zahoor Baloch, Coordinator of EOC Sindh Fayaz Jatoi as well as the partner staff. The measles campaign in Sindh is part of the National Measles Vaccination Campaign and will be conducted in all 29 districts/1123 union councils of Sindh. It will target 7.1 million children from 9 months up to 5 years of age across the province.

“The measles campaign is coming at a time when it is needed, the measles epidemic has been claiming lives and the vaccination drive will help to build immunity of children against this deadly disease. There have been 122 measles related deaths in Sindh since the beginning of the year and a total of 291 lab confirmed cases have come forward, these vaccinations will save lives,” said Azra.

The measles vaccine will be available free of cost at public/private health facilities and outreach sites where parents will bring their children for vaccination. There will be 1523 fixed sites, 5633 teams at outreach sites, 87 mobile teams, 11760 social mobilizers, 1408 first level supervisors and 356 second level supervisors to ensure that the campaign is conducted smoothly.

The minister said that “Despite several challenges, vaccines are saving more and more lives. The measles vaccine is safe and effective, and has been approved and recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). The same vaccine has been used worldwide for more than 60 years. Children are at risk without vaccination against measles. Parents in Sindh must vaccinate their children to save them from this deadly disease.”

Project Director EPI Sind Dr Zahoor Baloch on the occasion appreciated the leadership of the Ministry of Health Sindh along with support from all stakeholders including, donors and international partners in organizing the measles campaign. “This campaign would not be possible without the leadership of the Minister of Health Sindh as well as partners and donors, it is a joint effort to save the future of the children of Pakistan and we appreciate the support we have received from the various stakeholders.”

Doctors from public and private hospitals have also been engaged to assist with the campaign, in collaboration with the Pakistan Paediatrics Association who have been extremely supportive in leading vaccination efforts across the province and the minister of health gave her appreciation to PPA for the role they have played and are playing for the children of our country. There has been and will be strong collaboration with religious leaders, education departments, media and the civil society organizations to ensure that the maximum target for the campaign is achieved.

The measles campaign will provide an opportunity for the Sindh health department to administer the supplementary dose while creating awareness about the benefits of immunization among caregivers. Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions to save the lives of children. Globally, immunisation has helped to avert 2-3 million deaths among children from vaccine preventable diseases. Immunisation offers a vital platform to bring other lifesaving interventions to children. Low immunization coverage on the other hand has an adverse effect on the other health interventions for mothers and children. The push to prioritise immunization is essential in providing equitable access to essential vaccines for all children and to save more lives.