According to a report compiled by the Disease Surveillance System of the Punjab Information Technology Board and issued on Thursday, the number of measles cases in Punjab has reached 7,794 since January this year.
Five districts — Lahore, Gujranwala, Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan and Rawalpindi — have been declared high risk, said an official, adding that data revealed that the provincial capital had topped among the other districts with 2,539 cases. There are 691 measles cases in Gujranwala, 430 in Muzaffargarh, 344 in Dera Ghazi Khan and 281 in Rawalpindi.
The official said six children had died of the epidemic in the last four months. Among them three died in Lahore.
He said that according to the reports, 80 per cent of the total measles-affected children were not administered vaccine during routine immunization coverage and blamed the factor the main reason behind the outbreak of the disease in Punjab.
He said the situation could be gauged from the cases reported in the first three months of 2013 in Punjab compare to the total reported all over the country in last two years.
The official said the number of confirmed cases reported in Pakistan was 2,533 in 2011 and 2,975 in 2012. The major outbreak of measles in 2012 was reported in Punjab with 1,152 confirmed cases, compared to 898 in 2011.
He said the Punjab government was planning a donors’ conference in June, a month before the peak season of the disease (measles) in order to convince the international donor agencies for the procurement of the vaccine to avoid any mishap.
He said the provincial government was consulting its key partners, primarily UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Foundation and the American Red Cross, for technical and financial support to fight the outbreak.
The required vaccine would be administered to a target population of three million children in Punjab during the ‘largest-ever mass measles campaign’ which is likely to be launched country-wide to steer it out of crisis of the disease’ endemic, the official said.
He said that under the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the provinces were supposed to procure vaccines by themselves from the fiscal year 2012-13. All provinces failed to initiate the process due to some unavoidable circumstances. So the federal EPI decided in October 2012 to provide the vaccines to the provinces till June 30, 2013.
The Punjab government has decided to organize donors’ conference to meet its after-June requirements and to avoid stock-out situation.