THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Pakistan reports more than 6,000 measles cases in Punjab province

Health officials in Pakistan reported more than 6,000 measles cases in four months in different parts of the province of Punjab during the latest surveillance drive.

Tanveer Ahmed, the director of health services for EPI Punjab, said most of the cases occurred in Lahore. The health department reports 60 to 70 new measles patients each day in different parts of the province. There were 19 measles deaths in children in Lahore, Kasur, Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur and Gujranwala, DailyTimes.com.pk reports.

"The vaccination and surveillance drive has been stepped up to control the threat," Ahmed said, according to DailyTimes.com.pk. "It is also part of the strategy to mop up and vaccinate areas with measles patients."

Health services in the province launched intensive vaccination in Rahim Yar Khan and at the nearby Sindh border to prevent the virus from spreading into other provinces.

Ahmed said the measles vaccination is available in all Lahore hospitals and parents should get their children vaccinated as soon as possible, DailyTimes.com.pk reports.

In January, Zulfiqar Bhutta, the founding chair of the division of women and child health at Aga Khan University in Karachi, said an outbreak of measles was waiting to happen in Pakistan without adequate immunization coverage in many parts of the country, according to TheLancet.com.

"We have also confused people over the years by delivering some vaccines such as polio door to door and insisting that parents take their young infants and children many a mile for other vaccines," Bhutta said, TheLancet.com reports. "This was a tragedy in waiting. We have been predicting for a while now that without adequate cover with routine immunizations in many parts of Pakistan, notably in rural populations, there was bound to be a situation where you would have an outbreak like this."