KARACHI– General Secretary Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA) Central, Dr. Mushtaq Memon revealed that the routine vaccination coverage is less than 50% in Sindh, despite the availability of free vaccines at Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) centers, throughout the Province.
Addressing a press briefing in connection of World Immunization Week, Dr. Memon stated that, Immunization coverage in 5 districts of Sindh, including Jacobabad, Larkana, Kashmore, Shahdadpur and Ghotki is recorded to be very low, as compared to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The authorities of concerned health department needs to cover these areas to improve routine vaccination coverage, particularity in rural areas of the province.
Furthermore, he added that, lack of awareness among parents is the biggest reason behind low coverage. If collective efforts are placed and coverage rate hits 90%, then many diseases claiming precious lives can be eradicated. Vaccines not only save lives but, also helps in developing immunity in children, resulting in low reliance on antibiotics.
Treasurer PPA Dr. MN Lal, said “It is a commendable initiative of Government to include Rotavirus Vaccine in EPI program as in Pakistan, Rotavirus leads to 1 out of 3 infant hospitalizations and almost every child gets infected with Rotavirus by their 5th birthday.” Moreover, he further discussed that, Pneumococcal meningitis is the most common and serious form of bacterial meningitis. Children, as young as a few months old, up to the age of 2 are at the highest risk of pneumococcal meningitis. Diarrhea and pneumonia are 2 biggest killers of Children, not only in Pakistan but around the globe and vaccinations can help fight these menaces.
Chairman PPA Karachi Chapter Dr. Jamil Akhtar, stressed upon the importance of vaccinations by stating that, “Vaccination can reduce the usage of some antibiotics, to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance. Vaccines activate antibodies that fight off the disease at hand, without actually giving you the disease. They trick us into fighting a disease we don’t have, so that our body is prepared to fight it off if we are exposed it in the future.”
He added that every year, vaccines prevent 6 million deaths worldwide. They are the most affordable solution when it comes to preventing certain health hazards. It can also eradicate the incidence of death caused by diseases like polio, measles, whooping cough, diarrhea and pneumonia. If people are not vaccinated, diseases that have become uncommon such as pertussis (whooping cough), polio and measles, will quickly re-appear, with serious symptoms.