President to form body on measles, says adviser

Report
from DAWN Group of Newspapers
Published on 20 Jan 2013 View Original

HYDERABAD, Jan 20: President Asif Ali Zardari, taking notice of reports about death of several hundred children from measles in Sindh over the past few months, has decided to form an inquiry committee to look into the causes of the outbreak.

This was stated by Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister on Relief Haleem Adil Sheikh while speaking to Dawn by phone on Sunday.

He said that the president took the decision in the light of two reports, one sent by his department and the other by Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, the chairperson of the President’s Polio Oversight Committee. Mr Sheikh said that Dr Pechuho’s report was based on the facts collected by a committee.

“Secretary General to the President and Federal Ombudsman Salman Farooqui spoke to me by phone on Saturday night and said that the president was gravely concerned over the outbreak and that an inquiry committee was being formed to look into the causes,” Mr Sheikh said.

The adviser said he (Mr Sheikh) updated the presidency on the situation through a fresh report on Sunday.

It was urged to strengthening the Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI) for vaccination against disease like measles, TB, malaria, polio, hepatitis, etc, he added.

He was of the view that many parents were not bringing children to any hospital for treatment owing to the myths attached to the disease.

The district health officers and district-level medical staff were also misreporting or hiding facts regarding the outbreak only to save their skin, he claimed.

Suggesting other factors, the adviser said that most people could not afford the expensive treatment at private health facilities while malnutrition, unavailability of proper treatment facilities and absence of isolation wards were the other causes.

“The EPI is compromised. Private clinics/hospitals do not have adequate facilities, medicines/vaccines and trained staff to treat a large number of patients,” he said.

He suggested that anti-measles campaign should be expedited with active involvement of district administrations. “EPI should be strengthened as far as vaccination of measles, TB, malaria, polio, hepatitis are concerned and strict supervision and monitoring of vaccinators should be done,” he added.

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