Two more measles patient died at a Lahore hospital on Wednesday, bringing the death toll in the provincial capital City to 50. So far 75 children have died of measles in the province. On May 9, authorities claimed to have achieved the target fixed for nine-day anti-measles campaign in Lahore.

Muhammad Talha, three months, and Saif Ali, 18 months, died at Children’s Hospital. Seventy-four more patients were admitted to different hospitals in the City on Wednesday. More than 2.6 million children aging between six months to ten years have been vaccinated, the media was told last Wednesday. On April 17, Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Nanam Sethi stressed the need for taking steps on war footing against measles.

On April 28, Punjab Health Minister Salima Hashmi said the Health Department would start vaccination campaign against measles across Punjab in June, although the situation on ground calls for immediate vaccination to save precious lives. On April 30, the Lahore High Court observed that children were being died of measles and the Punjab government was busy transferring and posting Patwaris. Hearing a petition seeking judicial inquiry into measles deaths, Justice Muhammad Khalid Mahmood Khan directed the Punjab Health Department to take the dengue war-like steps against the outbreak.

Reportedly, just above 50 per cent of children in Punjab received anti-measles vaccinations. The menace of measles has been haunting Punjab as the outbreak threatens to reach epidemic proportions. In just the first four months of this year, more than 40 children died of measles and nearly 9,000 children contracted the disease. This comes on top of a measles crisis that hit Sindh towards the end of 2012, as the provincial government faced a shortage of vaccinations, leading to nearly 100 deaths.

Diseases like measles and polio are eminently preventable through vaccination but can spread very speedily if the entire population isn’t vaccinated. Just a few years ago, Pakistan was close to being polio-free but the disease is spreading across the country at an alarming rate. The idea of vaccinations is now so tied to anti-West conspiracy theories that those working to administer these vaccinations are being killed. In such a situation, the government, NGOs and international aid organisations have not only to try and vaccinate as many children as possible but also launch awareness campaigns laying out the risks of polio and measles so that basic medicine is not held hostage to political theatrics.

anti-dengue drive

District Coordination Officer Rizwan Mehboob Wednesday suspended an official over negligence in anti-dengue drive and sealed three godowns of tyres at Nolakha Market. During monitoring, the DCO also booked Royal Palm general manager in connection with the violation of campaign rules.

Accompanied by health officials, the DCO paid visit to Nolakaha Tyre Market to monitor anti-dengue measures. On the presence of water in open tyres, the DCO sealed three warehouses and issued directives to book the owners.

He also visited a petrol pump at Akbar Chowk and ordered registering a case against its manager over stagnant water. The DCO visited Royal Palm ordered booking its general manager over dengue larva presence. DCO suspended Union Council Secretary Asif Bhatti over negligence. He stated that no tolerance would be shown in anti dengue drive and ordered administrators to remain in field during dengue drive.