Measles outbreak kills 12 children in Pakistan

An outbreak of measles in a lawless Pakistan tribal district has killed 12 children and is spreading as curfews, power cuts and fighting have led to a shortage of vaccinations.

North Waziristan is a deeply poor area that borders Afghanistan and is Pakistan's most notorious stronghold for al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The area is frequently hit by drone strikes from the United States that target Islamic militants, AFP reports.

"For the past three weeks, we are daily receiving five to 10 children suffering from measles," Mohammad Ali Shah, the chief of the main hospital in the North Waziristan town of Miranshah, said, according to AFP.

There have been up to 70 hospital cases of measles, 12 deaths of children and the death of one man confirmed in the past three weeks. UNICEF said there were 143 measles alerts this year in Pakistan's semi-autonomous, seven district tribal belt.

"We do not have proper storage for measles vaccination because of long power outages and curfews and most of our stock expires due to these reasons," Shah said, according to AFP.

Poor transport facilities and poverty result in villagers who aren't able to come to hospitals for treatment while military operations prevent vaccination teams from reaching people in the rugged, mountainous areas.

"There is accumulation of significant number of unvaccinated children in different parts of this region which are revealing as outbreaks or alerts over time to time," Quamrul Hasan, a doctor with the World Health Organization, said, according to AFP.

Approximately 140,000 people died worldwide from measles in 2010, according to the World Health Organization. Ninety-five percent of the deaths came in low income countries with poor health infrastructure.