World Immunisation Week to start from 24th of April. Vaccines play a major role in elimination and prevention of diseases including diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhoea, rubella & tetanus.
Though the government of Pakistan has ensured free availability of vaccination in the country, the tragic fact is that the country has lowest coverage rate in South Asia.
Pakistan Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI) established in 1978, aims to vaccinate approximately six million children aged 0-11 months against 10 target diseases: Childhood Tuberculosis, Polio, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Diarrhoea, Hepatitis B, aemophilus Influenza Type b (HIB), pneumonia, measles & tetanus.
Parents should not compromise on immunisation of their children because thus can save kids from illness, disability and death from vaccine-preventable diseases and life-threatening infectious diseases can be treated and controlled through immunisation which also reduces the burden of disease.
According to President Pakistan Paediatric Association Pakistan (PPA) Dr Rai Muhammad Asghar, vaccination and immunisation can prevent over two million deaths of children under five years of age in the country. While briefing a press conference, he marked the upcoming World Immunisation Week which is observed in the last week of April.
World Immunisation Week aiming at highlighting the collective action needed to ensure that every person is protected from every vaccine-preventable diseases.
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Dr Rai Muhammad Asghar said that this year’s theme of the World Immunisation Week is ‘Protected Together, #VaccinesWork’ and this theme encourages people at every level to go further in their efforts to increase immunisation coverage for their greater good.
Due to vaccinations of various diseases, every year approximately three million deaths are prevented, however an estimated 19.5 million infants are still missing out on basic vaccines, worldwide.
In case the optimum rates of immunisation or “herd immunity” are not maintained, the diseases prevented by vaccination would return.
Rotavirus in Pakistan, leads to one out of three infant hospitalisations & almost every child gets infected with rotavirus by their 5th birthday.
pneumococcal meningitis also the most common form of meningitis which us the most serious form of bacterial meningitis. And children as young as a few months old and up to the age of 2 are at the highest risk of pneumococcal meningitis.
Polio, a highly infectious viral disease, can cause irreversible paralysis.
Measles, another highly contagious disease caused by a virus, usually results in a high fever and rash, and can lead to blindness, encephalitis or even death.
Hepatitis B, a viral infection that attacks the liver is also preventable by vaccine.
Vaccination can reduce the usage of some antibiotics as they can tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance. “Vaccines activate antibodies that fight off the disease at hand, without actually giving you the disease. They trick us into fighting a disease we don’t have, so that our body is prepared to fight it off if we are exposed it in the future” said Dr Rai Muhammad Asghar.
Vaccines -the most affordable solution when it comes to preventing certain health hazards- prevent six million deaths worldwide, every year. They can prevent even death caused by diseases like polio, measles, whooping cough, diarrhoea and pneumonia.
In case people are not vaccinated, uncommon diseases such as pertussis (whooping cough), polio and measles, will re-appear.