Pakistan Faces Measles Epidemic

“Pakistan has been hit by a measles epidemic that has claimed the lives of hundreds of children since the start of the year, almost as many as in the whole of 2012,” the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog reports. “The [WHO] has recorded nearly 30,000 cases and 290 deaths across Pakistan so far in 2013,” the blog writes, adding, “This is up from 15,000 cases and 310 deaths in all of 2012.” The blog continues, “Pakistan’s health authorities from the federal to the district level have struggled to mount a timely emergency response to the epidemic that has swept across the country, particularly in the larger cities of Punjab and Sindh province,” but “behind the epidemic is a routine vaccination program that has been patchily implemented and has failed to protect Pakistan’s children from the most basic childhood diseases.” According to “India Real Time,” “Just over half of children in Pakistan are vaccinated against measles, according to WHO figures,” but “[i]n order to prevent a disease outbreak the vaccination rate for the highly contagious disease such as measles, has to be closer to 95 percent.” The blog provides a brief history of the program, known at the Extended Program on Immunization, writing, “Many doctors described the emergency response to the current measles epidemic as slow and poorly coordinated” (Symington, 7/6).

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