Following an outbreak of measles in Sindh, which has claimed over 110 lives in the province since January 1, several religious charities and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have acquired the vaccine for the disease and are vaccinating children for free in Karachi.
Measles vaccination is part of routine immunisation of the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) of the government, but due to its poor credibility, irregular timings and a lack of centres in the city, hundreds of thousands of children are left out.
“Since last week, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) has organised 50 camps in various areas of the city and vaccinated around 22,000 children against measles,” Nadeem Ahmed, a spokesman for the JuD, told The News on Thursday.
He said another vaccination drive would start on Monday, for which camps would be established in various areas, while the mosque platform would be used to convince people to get their children vaccinated.
Ahmed maintained that their teams of doctors and vaccinators would also visit areas hit hardest by the disease in Sindh from next week and vaccinate millions of children against measles, which has become an endemic in the province. Children between nine months and 12 years were being vaccinated, he said, adding that his charity had acquired the internationally-acclaimed vaccine from local and international suppliers.
Al-Khidmat Welfare Society is another NGO which is offering free measles vaccination in Karachi, Tharparkar, Nawabshah, Larkana, Dadu and Sukkur, while its teams are going to rural areas to vaccinate children against the viral disease.
“Free measles vaccination is being provided at all Al-Khidmat health centers and facilities spread all over the city, where big banners have been placed to attract people to get their children vaccinated against measles,” Engr Abdul Aziz, secretary of Al-Khidmat Welfare Society, said.
He said ambulances of the society were also going to flood-hit areas, including Jacobabad and Kashmore, as many people could not bring their children to vaccination centers in the district headquarters.
“We are also creating awareness and convincing people to get their children vaccinated against measles and other viral and contagious diseases, especially polio.” Al-Mustafa Welfare Society is the third religious organisation working in the field of health, which is facilitating EPI vaccinators at its centers and hospitals in Karachi and offering free measles vaccination.