Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Measles mortality - Pakistan

The following link scrolled across my Facebook feed, the writer lamenting the fact that parents in Pakistan are questioning the use of vaccines in the midst of a measles epidemic - no link to an original article, though.

The writer states there have been 100 deaths so far, out of 15,000 cases in 1 province (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) - a death rate of 0.66% based on the information in this letter to the editor.

But it isn't measles that is killing Pakistan's children - their newborns and neonates die at alarming rates from prematurity, birth asphyxia and birth trauma, and sepsis ... problems that are symptoms of systemic problems - problems that are amenable to trained midwives, prenatal care and good nutrition during pregnancy, and a higher level of care, when necessary.

If they survive their first year of life, it isn't measles that kills them (not directly, anyway) - it is acute lower respiratory infections, diarrhea, other non-communicable diseases, and injuries.


But looking at UNICEF data it seems that Pakistan has made great strides in improving their
child mortality stats:


And perhaps the high coverage of Vit A dosing is why their measles deaths are (relatively) low!

The question that is left begging, is why do we spend huge sums of money, time, and talent on vaccination instead of raising the standard of living - education and economic development has a huge impact on health - as then people are able to afford a healthier lifestyle - like electricity or gas so they aren't using cow dung to cook their food inside their dwelling, like electricity so they can have a refridgerator to keep food from spoiling, like access to clean water, and indoor toilets so their waste is kept separate from the source of their drinking water, money to buy higher quality and more nutritious food.  

Perhaps the reason people are avoiding vaccination is because it has been used as a ruse (in Pakistan no less!) to obtain DNA in an effort to identify terrorists and their locations.

Regardless, vaccination should be accepted freely by parents or adults - not forced upon people for any reason. Doing the right thing, in the wrong way, makes the right thing wrong - it doesn't make the wrong means/method right!

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