Five more die as Dadu faces measles vaccine shortage

from DAWN Group of Newspapers
Published on 13 Jan 2013 View Original

DADU, Jan 13: Lives of five more children living in the Kachho belt of Dadu district’s Johi taluka were lost to the measles outbreak on Sunday.

Over the past week, 14 children died from measles in across Dadu district. Seven children died in Simm village, two in Meer Mohammad village, two in Heero Khan village, two in Sahib Khan Leghari village and one child died in Chhiddi village.

During a visit to the Kachho belt, the residents told Dawn that the health department teams had not visited their villages for measles vaccination.

Meanwhile, hundreds of parents returned home without getting their children vaccinated as government hospitals and health centres across Dadu district faced an acute shortage of measles vaccine.

A resident of Sahib Khan Leghari village, Mohammad Ismail Leghari, said that there were around 50 ailing children in his village, while a resident of Mai Siani Birhamani village said that around 100 children were sick in the area.

The in charge if the basic health unit, Dr Zubair Ahmed, told Dawn that every day between 300 and 350 children from various villages of the Kachho belt came to Wahi Pandhi to get vaccinated against measles. He said that around 2,000 vials of vaccine were required but the health department had only provided 350 vials. According to him no deaths had been reported from the basic health unit.

Meanwhile, on Saturday evening, adviser to chief minister on relief Haleem Adil Shaikh paid a visit to Heero Khan and Simm villages of Kachho belt, Taluka Hospital Johi and Basic Health Unit, Wahi Pandhi.

Talking to Dawn, the adviser said that health officials were not accepting the high number of deaths to protect their jobs. He said that Dadu deputy commissioner Nasir Abbas Soomro had informed him that more than 50,000 vials of measles vaccine were required but the health department had provided only 7,000 vials.

The adviser said that he had instructed the health secretary to provide more vaccine and appealed to the federal government to help the provincial government control the measles outbreak.

He said that relief department had announced a ‘package’ for people living in remote villages to provide them with transportation charges and doctor’s fees, adding that the relief department would also pay private doctors in Johi taluka for treating the ailing children.

The WHO representative in Dadu, Dr Sohail Ahmed, told Dawn that WHO teams had visited the houses of measles victims and had confirmed around 100 measles cases.

Six officials suspended

On his way back from Heero Khan village in the Kachho area, the adviser brought with him a little girl, Kulsoom, who was in critical condition and had already lost her sister to measles.

When he reached the Civil Hospital Dadu, he found the measles isolation ward locked up and doctors absent. He was informed of a private healthcare centre nearby, run by civil surgeon Dr Javaid Ahmed Dawachh of the Civil Hospital Dadu, and he took Kulsoom there and got her admitted at the hospital after paying the required fee of Rs11,500.

The adviser found the missing in charge of civil hospital Dr Mohammad Nawaz Khokhar and five other doctors treating patients at the private healthcare facility. Dr Khokar told the adviser that he had attended to 350 children in the day and came to Dr Dawachh’s facility at night or for emergencies.

At the moment, the adviser told Dr Khokhar him to focus on Kulsoom’s treatment and put off the issue. But on Sunday, he forwarded a report to the chief minister asking him to give directions to the provincial health minister and secretary to take action against the six absent officials of Civil Hospital Dadu, including Dr Khokhar, and the civil surgeon Dr Dawachh who was running the private healthcare facility.

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