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Experts Blame Lack Of Immunization Coverage For Pakistan’s Measles Outbreak

In 2012, measles “claimed the lives of more than 300 children in Pakistan,” with more than 200 of those deaths from Sindh province, and health experts and the WHO are saying “the huge difference in routine immunization coverage between the provinces, districts and cities is at the root of the measles outbreak,” Inter Press Service reports. “The government has started a mass immunization campaign from January 1 for children aged nine months to 10 years in eight districts of Sindh,” according to the news service. “The outbreak casts serious doubts over official claims that 82 percent of under-fives in Sindh are immunized,” IPS writes, noting D.S. Akram, a pediatrician with the non-governmental organization HELP, which works on maternal and child health in Sindh, said, “These figures are an overestimate and in measles vaccination it is around 50 percent at best” (Ebrahim, 1/12).

Some health officials said flooding and heavy rains over the past five years have contributed to health workers’ inability to reach certain areas, and others said malnutrition contributed to the measles deaths, BMJ reports (Kazi, 1/14). IPS adds, “Many experts have long held that with much money and political commitment directed towards eradication of polio, routine immunization took a backseat” (1/12).