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KP begins drive against measles

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department has begun a 12 days immunisation campaign in the province to protect children against measles.

During the campaign, one dose of anti-measles vaccine will be administered to 9.6 million children from six months to 10 years of age across the board.

A total of 5,000 teams, 1,075 area chiefs and 202 zonal supervisors are part of the exercise during which oral polio vaccine (OPV) will also be given to the children under the age of five years in all seven Southern districts of the province, including Kohat, Hangu, Karak, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan, and two high-risk union councils in Nowshera district.

In all, 4,341 teams will vaccinate 1,201,466 children against polio. Dr Jan Baz Afridi, deputy director at the provincial Expanded Programme on Immunisation, told Dawn that the campaign would help the province achieve the Millennium Development Goals on healthcare. He said the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation and the provincial government supported the children`s immunisation.

The EPI official said the provincial health departments tried to control measles through patchy vaccination and outbreak response campaigns targeting different age groups with available vaccines for routine programme resulting in high incidence of measles.

`1,008 measles cases were reported in 2010, 2,702 in 2011 and 10,000 from Jan 2012 to Feb 2013. During the Jan 2012-Feb 2013 period, more than 500 deaths by the disease were reported prompting authorities to launch aggressive immunisation of children,` he said.

Dr Afridi said the campaign would cost around $10 million, including $3.83 million for vaccine procurement and $6.23 million for operations. He said immunisation of one child would cost $1.05 on average.

He said vaccines would be administered to the children by fixed EPI centres and outreach teams, while some `difficult` areas would be covered by mobile teams. The EPI official said all district health officers would spearhead the campaign in their respective districts. Bureau Report