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Immunization can prevent over 2m child deaths in Pakistan

Immunization can prevent over 2m child deaths in Pakistan

Islamabad : Immunization can prevent more than two million deaths of children under 5 years of age in Pakistan. However, despite the availability of free vaccination by the government, the country has the lowest coverage rate in South Asia.

Prof. Dr. Rai Muhammad Asghar, president of the Pakistan Paediatric Association Pakistan (PPA) shared the significance of immunization for child health during a press briefing organised to mark the upcoming World Immunization Week.

‘‘Parents should not compromise on immunization of their children as it saves them from illness, disability and death from vaccine-preventable diseases,” Dr. Rai appealed. He said, life-threatening infectious diseases can be treated and controlled through immunization, which also reduces the disease burden. Vaccines also play a major role in eliminating and preventing diseases including diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhea, rubella and tetanus.

Immunization is estimated to save 2-3 million lives every year. An estimated 19.5 million infants worldwide are still missing out on basic vaccines. If the optimum rates of immunization or “herd immunity” are not maintained, the diseases prevented by vaccination will return, Dr. Rai added.

Talking about the deadliest preventable diseases in Pakistan, Dr. Rai said, “Rotavirus leads to 1 out of 3 infant hospitalizations in Pakistan and almost every child gets infected with Rotavirus by their 5th birthday.”

Moreover, Pneumococcal meningitis is the most common form of meningitis and the most serious form of bacterial meningitis. Very young children—as young as a few months old and up to the age of 2—are at highest risk of pneumococcal meningitis, said Dr. Rai.

“Vaccination can reduce the usage of some antibiotics. As such, 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 to it in the future,” Dr. Rai added.

Vaccines prevent six million deaths worldwide every year. Vaccines are the most affordable solution when it comes to preventing certain health hazards. They can prevent even death that is caused by diseases like polio, measles, whooping cough, diarrhea and pneumonia. Moreover, if people are not vaccinated, diseases that have become uncommon such as pertussis (whooping cough), polio and measles, will quickly re-appear.

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