A surge in measles-related deaths has alarmed doctors and health providers in Pakistan, with experts warning of an epidemic-like situation and blaming it on poor immunisation coverage.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported recently that the deaths from measles had surged in Pakistan in 2012 causing around 306 casualties and said there was a need to start an offensive to immunise children in the worst-hit areas of the country which has a poor health care system.
The outbreak of measles has been the severest in Pakistan's southern Sindh province with 212 deaths reported officially till today since last year.
"There is an inefficient state vaccination machinery resulting in a lack of coverage of the immunisation drive against measles," Dr S Akram, who works mostly in the interior of the Sindh province told PTI.
Recently, WHO was also forced to suspend an anti-polio vaccine drive in Pakistan's biggest city Karachi after militants shot dead at least six health workers.
The anti-polio campaign has already run into problems in the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province and its adjoining tribal areas where the Taliban and other militant outfits have denounced the anti-polio vaccine drive.
More than half of the children who have succumbed to measles died in the last three months of 2012. Shah said the deaths due to measles was a reflection of the gross "mismanagement" that exists in the government-run routine immunization for children.He said only 65 per cent of the areas of Pakistan were covered by the present immunization drive.
Measles, a contagious respiratory infection caused by a virus can cause lifelong disabilities including brain damage and blindness. It was a leading killer globally accounting for over 40 per cent of the 4.1 million deaths in 2002.