SWABI - Measles has broken out in the far-flung Gadoon Amazai mountainous region and the district health authorities have kicked off a vaccination drive in the affected villages, sending teams for immunisation of children, officials said on Tuesday.

People of the remote areas confirmed that the disease continues to spread. They stressed need for a strengthened response in order to control its spreading.  They said measles remained one of the leading causes of death among children in the area, despite the availability of vaccines and tall claims made by the health authorities.

Reports said that three children identified as Uzama, daughter of Shakir Rehman, Alam Naz, daughter of Muhammad Iqbal and Naheed Begum, daughter of Ghulam Abkar, became victims of measles.

All of them belonged to Ghani Kot village.  However, Dr Raiz, district incharge of EPI, said, “The death of three children might be caused by other diseases. We have no confirmation about the deaths and cause of the deaths.”     –Reporter

In contrast, he admitted that the outbreak of the measles was reported from the Ghani Kot and some other regions of Gadoon belt and they made all-out efforts to run vaccination campaign there.

He admitted that measles is spread very easily from person to person, when droplets of the virus are circulated through the air from an infected person/child coughing or sneezing.

Former provincial food minister, Ghaffoor Khan Jadoon who belongs to the Gadoon said that the Gadoon region continues to battle measles outbreaks that are rapidly spreading to other surrounding regions and a number measles cases have already been reported and confirmed. He said that they had already appealed to health authorities that they should send immediately their teams and take precautionary measures but they failed to come forward in time and the result was the victimization of the people.

He said that Gadoon is an isolated terrain and it was the responsibility of the government to vaccinate children in time and protect them from this deadly disease.

Dr Raiz said that the routine immunization schedule has been disturbed in the region after the withdrawal of support by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

Under the Unicef support five technicians were working under the EPI programme. “After the withdrawal of Unicef financial assistances they lost their job.

Now, the district health department staff visit the area on emergency basis and the last visit we paid under the crash programme for the vaccination was Jan 19,”‘ he said. “We ran the vaccination campaign in the whole Gadoon region.” It has been learnt that the EPI officials held a detailed meeting with the district coordination officer, Muhammad Shah and he directed them that they should accelerate their vaccination campaign and depute staff to visit there.

Dr Raiz said that they have sent two teams to Ghani Kot on Monday and three teams of Tuesday and this process would be continued for a few days.

“We give vaccine to the people in the affected villages and 50 houses at each side of the affected areas. Our objective is to protect people from measles because its virus spreads very easily and rapidly,” he said.