ISLAMABAD: An outbreak of diphtheria, a deadly infectious disease that causes severe breathing problems, has claimed the lives of at least 39 children across the country, sending the healthcare authorities looking for help from the international health bodies.
Despite claims of an increase in routine immunisation rates in the country, deaths are rising from the vaccine-preventable disease, which has been wiped off from most parts of the world.
Responding to Pakistan’s call, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) have decided to provide anti-diphtheria serum or antitoxin to the authorities.
The officials said that UNICEF was making arrangements to provide anti-diphtheria serums, while WHO is also making efforts in this regard.
Paediatricians said that the diphtheria outbreak was due to the non-availability of the pentavalent vaccine and anti-diphtheria serum.
As per the officials, production of anti-diphtheria serum has largely reduced due to the eradication of the disease across the globe.
"Diphtheria is a lethal bacterial infection, a vaccine-preventable disease; however, every week dozens of diphtheria cases are being reported from Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan while suspected cases are also being reported from Azad Jammu and Kashmir”, an official of the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHS,R&C) said.
Infectious disease experts and paediatricians are blaming the flawed federal and provincial vaccination projects for this surge, calling for an immediate overhaul of the federal and provincial Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI).
According to experts, diphtheria is a serious infection caused by strains of bacteria called ‘Corynebacterium diphtheria that make toxins. It can lead to breathing, heart rhythm problems, and even death. Pakistani children are given a vaccine, a combination of five vaccines that protects from five major diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type b (DTP-hepB-Hib).
"We want to make booking your screening as easy as booking an Uber," said Ezra owner, indicating the kind of facility...
Report also finds fewer than half of food establishments with outbreaks lack paid sick leave laws
New research indicates that cardiac rehabilitation based on exercise can avoid myocardial remodelling after a heart...
"We really don't know where the virus came from; the question is still open," says Prof Gao while clarifying that...
Discovery creates new opportunities for enhancing neonatal care and avoiding difficulties in premature newborns' vision
Due to the lack of accurate and timely diagnoses, patients with this debilitating condition often become disabled