Measles Outbreak in Pakistan Leaves 12 Children Dead

Measles outbreak in tribal Pakistan leaves 12 children dead. (Photo: UNICEF)

Measles outbreak in tribal Pakistan leaves 12 children dead. (Photo: UNICEF)

Twelve children have died in three weeks due to a measles outbreak in Pakistan’s tribal northwest. A doctor attributed the deaths to a shortage of medicines spurred by power cuts, curfews and military operations.

North Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan, is home to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda’s most well-known refuge in Pakistan. It is also a frequent victim to U.S. drone strikes aimed at Islamic militants.

“We do not have proper storage for measles vaccination because of long power outages and curfews and most of our stock expires due to these reasons,” said doctor Mohammad Ali Shah, chief of the main hospital in Miranshah–the area’s biggest town. While he estimated an average of five to 10 measles cases per day among children, another doctor said there are up to 70 unconfirmed cases of the disease in the hospital at present.

According to an AFP report, United Nations agency UNICEF said there were 143 measles alerts for Pakistan’s tribal belt this year. With poverty and military unrest playing a key role, it is not uncommon that villagers are unable to get to a hospital or obtain access to basic vaccines.

The World Health Organization said measles accounted for 140,000 deaths worldwide in 2010–95 percent of these deaths occurred in developing countries.