At least 39 children have died countrywide as a result of an outbreak of diphtheria, a dangerous bacterial illness that causes severe respiratory difficulties. As a result, the healthcare system has turned to foreign health agencies for help.
The vaccine-preventable disease, which was eradicated from the majority of the world, claimed the lives of at least 39 children and teenagers in the country despite assurances that regular immunisation rates had increased.
In response to a request from Pakistan, the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) have chosen to give the authorities anti-diphtheria serum or antitoxin.
According to the officials, UNICEF was developing plans to provide anti-diphtheria serums, and WHO was also working on this problem.
The diphtheria outbreak, according to paediatricians, was caused by a lack of pentavalent vaccination and anti-diphtheria serum.
According to authorities, the global elimination of the illness has resulted in a significant decrease in the production of anti-diphtheria serum.
“Diphtheria is a vaccine-preventable bacterial infection; however, dozens of diphtheria cases are reported every week from Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan, with suspected cases also reported from Azad Jammu and Kashmir,” a National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHS, R&C) official said.
Infectious disease experts and paediatricians blame the outbreak on inadequate federal and provincial immunisation programmes, urging for an immediate overhaul of the federal and provincial Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI).
Experts claim that bacteria named “Corynebacterium diphtheria” produce the deadly infection diphtheria, which can be fatal. It may result in difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, and even death. Five vaccinations are administered to Pakistani children to protect them against five severe diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenza type b. (DTP-hepB-Hib).