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Emergency vaccination drive by Caritas

Measles death toll rockets in deprived areas

ucanews.com reporter, Karachi

ucanews.com reporter, Karachi

Published: February 28, 2013 08:34 AM GMT

Updated: February 27, 2013 10:43 PM GMT

Emergency vaccination drive by Caritas
A child is vaccinated at a temporary Caritas clinic in Karachi

Caritas Pakistan launched a month-long measles vaccination drive yesterday in the slums of the country’s largest city, as a growing outbreak claims more lives across the country.

According to the World Health Organization, 154 children died of measles last month mostly in Sindh province. More than 300 deaths were recorded nationwide last year.

"We’re targeting four major slums,” said Dominic Gill, executive secretary of Caritas in Karachi archdiocese.

“The number of cases is growing. Our focus is on poor communities where medical facilities are scarce. We are talking about families who cannot even afford three meals a day,” he said.

He was speaking yesterday at a clinic set up in a street in front of the Blessed Charles de Foco Church in Karachi’s Saif-ul-Marri Goth slum. A total of 344 children were vaccinated on the first day of the drive.

Caritas Pakistan plans to extend the vaccination drive to three dioceses in Punjab province -- Lahore archdiocese, Multan and Faisalabad dioceses. The Church’s social arm also plans to organize hygiene awareness seminars in association with other Christian organizations.

The recent spike in the number of measles cases and deaths are a result of malnutrition, an ongoing power crisis and Islamic fundamentalism, which opposes vaccinations as well as a lack of government action, the Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians said earlier this week.

“There was no follow-up to a national vaccination campaign conducted five years ago,” said Doctor Muhammad Tahir Chaudhry, general secretary of the organization.

“Also, religious groups oppose vaccines which come from Western countries. This ignorance is killing our children,” he added.

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