PESHAWAR: With diarrhoea a major killer of children in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), the provincial government has decided to introduce vaccines against the Rotavirus in its routine immunization programme.
Pakistan has a particularly high mortality rate from diarrhoea, with around 105 deaths per 10,000 births. Moreover, around half of all the diarrhoea cases reported from around the world are from four countries, including Pakistan, Nigeria, Congo and India. At least one per cent of the cases in these countries was caused by the rotavirus.
In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), between 20,000 to 25,000 children lost their lives before they could celebrate their first birthday due to diarrhoea-induced deaths, officials said while launching the vaccine at a local hotel in the provincial capital on Tuesday.
The officials said that the virus not only overburdens parents who have meagre resources, but also the government which is already stretched thin.
“Even anti-polio drops lose their effectiveness due to diarrhoea which was a matter of great introspection for us,” said Emergency Operation Center (EOC) for Polio Coordinator Atif Rehman, adding that now the government was planning to utilize the strength of the polio eradication initiative for the expanded programme for immunization.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Chief of the Field Office Charles Nzuki reiterated that diarrhoea was a leading killer of children below the age of five.
“Children can be saved from this serious killer [rotavirus and diarrhoea] and targeting the virus will help us improve the survival rates of children,” Nzuki said, adding that it was important to invest in prevention.
K-P Health Secretary Abid Majeed stated their only aim was to reduce the out-of-pocket expenditures of the general public.
“When you vaccinate a child, there are fewer chances of an infection and launching this vaccine will help protect children from diarrhoea,” Majeed said, adding, “around two doses for a child are enough to ensure lifelong protection against diarrhoea.”
To enhance reach and coverage, the health secretary said that they were also focusing on standalone immunization facilities apart from equipping rural health centres and basic health units over the next fortnight.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2018.
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Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1616355/1-k-p-introduces-vaccine-diarrhoea/