Poor hygiene spreads typhoid amongst Karachi kids

Karachi: Research studies have shown poor hygiene is behind the spread of typhoid amongst children in Karachi, a moot was told here on Tuesday.

Trust for Vaccines & Immunization TVI conducted ‘Typhoid Consultation Meeting’ at a local hotel. The objective of the meeting was to bring together government stakeholders, policy decision makers, donor agencies and nongovernmental institutions to discuss typhoid control strategies and advocate the use of typhoid vaccine to prevent typhoid fever among school aged children, in Karachi specifically and Sindh in general.

The meeting was a follow-up of the pilot introduction of typhoid vaccine in Gulshan and Jamshed towns of Karachi earlier in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Dr. Imran Khan of IVI said, “Due to poor hygiene habits, children are more susceptible to the disease and research studies have indicated that over 500 people per 100,000 population contract typhoid in Karachi. Average cost of typhoid fever treatment for an outpatient is Rs. 4,000 and the cost increases many folds up to Rs. 30,000 if the typhoid case ends up being hospitalized.”

Dr. Mazhar Khamisani, Project Director, EPI – Sindh in his opening remarks welcomed the participants and expressed his gratitude on high turnout of participants indicating the importance of the problem. He also emphasized and stressed that before concluding the session the participants should recommend well defined strategies for typhoid control in Sindh, particularly in Karachi.

Chairman TVI, Dr. Abdul Ghaffar Billoo explained the immunization challenges faced by Pakistan and the role of TVI in addressing the challenges. He said, “TVI strives to ensure that every child irrespective of his/her social class, colour or ethnic group is protected against vaccine preventable diseases. We aim to make every effort to increase uptake of typhoid vaccination to reduce incidences of vaccine preventable diseases in Pakistan.”

Dr. Ghulam Mustafa of TVI said, “120,000 children were administered typhoid vaccine in almost 1,800 public schools, private schools and madrasahs of Gulshan Town and Jamshed Town during the Typhoid Vaccination Campaign. At the conclusion of these pilot projects, we learnt that physicians, teachers, head teacher and religious leaders have an important role to play in convincing parents of the benefits of vaccination to ensure long term health of school going children. On the other hand, the role of government is critical in encouraging schools to participate in vaccination programs because schools serve as the most feasible venue for improving vaccination coverage for typhoid.”

Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta of Aga Khan University discussed the possibilities for the control of typhoid fever in Sindh and recommended the future direction. He said, “Periodic typhoid vaccination campaigns may be an effective strategy for the control of typhoid fever. To follow such strategy, abundance of resources as well as availability and ability of the health system to deliver the vaccines for target group is highly imperative. Such campaigns can be repeated every three years targeting children aged 5 15 years to control the outbreak of typhoid.”

Dr. Christian Loucq, Director General, International Vaccine Institute IVI expressed his gratitude to TVI and EPI for hosting the event and for the hospitality. He further emphasized, “IVI is committed to the control of infectious diseases in Pakistan by accelerating the use of vaccines through their introduction to the masses. We are making every possible effort to improve the immunization services in Pakistan.”

TVI organized the meeting with support from Expanded Programme on Immunization EPI – Sindh and International Vaccine Institute IVI – Seoul Korea. Participants included representatives from Department of Health – Government of Sindh, District Health Offices, Department of Education – Government of Sindh, World Health Organization, UNICEF, USAID, GAVI, Save the Children, Pakistan Medical Association, Pakistan Paediatric Association, National Immunization Technical Advisory Group and Aga Khan University. The meeting was also attended by officials from Ministry of Health and Population, Nepal. At the conclusion of the meeting, participants deliberated upon strategies for improving the typhoid immunization coverage and stressed on the need for the introduction of typhoid vaccination program in Sindh.