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December 14, 2019

Paediatricians urge people to have their children vaccinated

Karachi

December 14, 2019

Calling on the parents to get their children vaccinated against preventable diseases through the centres of the government-run Expanded Program of Immunisation (EPI), eminent child specialists on Friday said the vaccines available at the centres were safe and they were imported by the government with the help of donor agencies to protect the Pakistani children from deaths and disabilities.

The speakers maintained that instead of paying heed to rumours, unverified clips and posts on social media and conspiracy theories spread by non-qualified persons, parents should consult qualified physicians, experts and doctors for accurate information. They said every child must be administered oral polio vaccine drops in all the upcoming vaccination drives to prevent children from the crippling disease.

The experts called for establishing children-friendly health facilities both in the public and private sectors, and starting an ambulance service that could transport critically sick children and neonates from one facility to the other. They also urged the doctors to use antibiotics rationally to lower the risk of anti-microbial resistance in the country.

They were speaking at a day-long conference on ‘Recent Clinical Advancements in Paediatrics’ organised by the Children’s Hospital Karachi, Research Institute for Genetics, Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant.

National Institute of Child Health (NICH) Director Prof Jamal Raza emphasised the importance of vaccination and urged the young doctors and paediatricians to convince parents to get their children vaccinated, saying thousands of lives of children could be saved while hundreds could have been prevented from permanent disability through the EPI’s vaccination programme.

Advising doctors not to put undue burden of diagnostic tests on parents where they were not required, he said doctors and physicians should be able to diagnose the disease clinically on the basis of symptoms.

Later, talking to newsmen, Prof Raza said the Sindh health department should avail the facility of genetic testing available at HEJ Research Institute at the University of Karachi. He added that it was a state-of-the-art facility that could help diagnose and prevent congenital diseases.

Responding to another query, the NICH director said a summary had been moved to the Sindh chief minister for the establishment of board of governors (BoG) of the Sindh Institute of Child Health (SICH), a bill for which had been passed by the Sindh Assembly. He maintained that after the establishment of BoG, the first satellite centre of SICH would be established in Mirpurkhas.

Paediatrician and former chairman of the Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA) Prof Iqbal Memon called for the vaccination of pregnant women and children as well as providing better nutrition to them, saying vaccines, healthy food and clean drinking water were the three main interventions that could prevent women and children from death and disease.

Neonatologist Dr Azhar Chagtai stressed the need for establishing proper health care facilities for the neonates and starting a state-of-the-art ambulance service to transport neonates and infants from one facility to the other.

He also urged doctors to avoid recommending last-line antibiotics as much as possible. None marrow transplant specialist Prof Saqib Ansari was of the view there were over 100,000 children suffering from thalassaemia in Pakistan compared to only 670 children in the entire England. He added that Pakistan could also eliminate thalassaemia by implementing the law regarding screening of couples before marriage.

He maintained that bone marrow transplant was the only treatment available for the children suffering from thalassaemia. He urged the authorities to start bone marrow transplant programmes in the public sector so that the poor could avail this costly treatment.

PPA Chairman Dr Jamil Akhtar highlighted in his address the importance of vaccines in preventing deaths. He said vaccines were Sadqa-e-Jaria as they saved lives. Other paediatricians, including Dr Fahmina, Dr Rafiq Khanani, Dr Riffat Shaheen, Dr Muhammad Zohaib and others, also addressed the conference.

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