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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vaccine Times: Measles kills 11 children in Pakistan

One thing that really dismays me about Americans is that they could generally care less about the goings on in the rest of the world.  Especially if something horrible is going on outside of Europe, and there seems to be a general consensus to ignore stuff if people suffering have a different skin colour compared to most Americans.

A recent measles outbreak has killed 11 children in Pakistan’s district of Dadu, according to Spero News. Health workers in the affected area have demanded new immunization centers to reach as many children as possible. Fortunately it appears the situation is under control, and over 4,000 children in the area have been vaccinated during the last couple of weeks in November. One woman in the affected area, has already lost 3 of her 4 children to the outbreak:
Gulann watches with empty eyes as the WHO doctors check the children’s arms for the vaccination mark. Her five year old daughter Sapona, half asleep, holds her tightly, as if afraid that she too would vanish from her life. Gulann has lost three of her four children in the measles outbreak, and Sapona all her siblings. Despite the sadness that grips everyone in Karapur, the women bring colorful fabrics and drop them on a “charpai” – a low wide hammock- for their WHO guests to sit, attesting the resilience of Pakistani hospitality. Dr Laghari uses the charpai as his examining coach to check Sapona’s temperature, her skin and her arm. “She is doing fine, and she has been vaccinated”, he says, his face openly relieved.
Gulann explains to the team that she had brought her kid to a doctor in the fish market “Aneela, woke up one day with a high fever and diarrhoea, and then I saw that she could not breath normally, I knew it was bad so I took her to the doctor. He gave her medication and admitted her in the hospital but she died. Ayaz and Kajul got sick later, and they died last week. They were not even admitted to the Hospital”. Too often hospitals are overcrowded and do not have a proper isolation room for contagious diseases. Admitting a case of measles could put at risk the rest of the patients. Gulann looks at her daughter with painstriken eyes “I have only Sapona left with me now” she whispers, caressing her daughter’s fingers softly.
I cannot hardly imagine a greater pain than what this mother must be living through right now; words fail me. Children shouldn’t be dying of a vaccine preventable disease, no matter where in the world they happen to live; and those lucky enough to live in countries where a live-saving shot is but a short car ride away should think twice before denying it to their children and putting their lives at the same risk, Gulann’s children’s were. Please, stop playing Russian Roulette with your children’s lives.

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