The Children’s Hospital of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) has launched a new initiative under which every child coming routinely to the hospital will be targeted with mandatory vaccination against measles effective today (Wednesday). The initiative will be replicated by all other public and private hospitals of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. A decision to this effect was taken during the course of a high-powered meeting held at the Children’s Hospital on Tuesday to formalise a strategic plan for the control of measles.
The meeting was attended by PIMS Executive Director Dr. Riaz Warraich, chief of the Expanded Programme on Immunization Dr. Zahid Larik, Capital Development Authority’s Directorate of Health Services (DHS) Director Dr. Hasan Urooj, heads of the paediatric departments of all public and private hospitals of the two cities, and representatives of the Islamabad Capital Territory. According to paediatric department head at Children’s Hospital Dr. Tabish Hazir, the participants have developed consensus on six basic recommendations. The short-term recommendations include the formulation of a task force, with focal persons from all public and private hospitals of Rawalpindi and Islamabad as its members; the appointment of liaison persons in DHS and ICT; and the establishment of a hotline for instant communication of measles cases. It will be the duty of the focal persons to report every case to DHS and ICT, which in turn will dispatch teams of vaccinators for mopping up in areas reporting measles cases.
“Despite vaccine shortage, EPI has agreed to provide extra doses of measles vaccine for smooth conduct of the mopping up exercise,” Dr. Tabish said. On another front, the DHS is facing a major crisis of human resource, with only 11 vaccinators available for the entire population of Islamabad. While the meeting has recommended hiring of additional vaccinators, the DHS and ICT have requested PIMS to spare some of its paramedics for measles vaccination as an interim arrangement. “Even though this is not a solution to overcome the shortage of vaccinators, particularly when the services of paramedics working at PIMS are direly needed within the hospital, the request will be discussed with the ED,” Dr. Tabish said.
Another short-term recommendation of the strategy pertains to the constitution of a core group that will develop messages for the media so that instead of raising panic, parents can be informed about the mode of transmission, symptoms and treatment of measles as part of a coordinated awareness campaign.
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