MSF responds to increase in measles cases in eastern Balochistan

February 1, 2013

MSF responds to increase in measles cases in eastern Balochistan © P.K. Lee/MSF

Cases of measles are on the increase in east Balochistan, says the international medical humanitarian association, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF). An MSF medical team in Dera Murad Jamali has treated 159 patients since late December; while there have been two measles-related deaths in health facilities supported by MSF in Jaffarabad and Nasirabad districts.

To cope with the increasing number of patients, an eight-bed isolation unit has been set up in Dera Murad Jamali hospital to treat patients with complications. Some 35 complicated cases have been treated over the past two weeks. Treatment kits have been distributed to locations where MSF runs mobile clinics, including Mir Hassan, Usta Mohammad, Dera Allah Yar and Sobhat Pur.

“Our mobile medical teams are reaching out to communities to identify patients with measles symptoms in the catchment area of our supported health facilities,” says Dr Muhammad Shoaib, MSF’s medical coordinator in Pakistan. “Patients are then referred for treatment aimed at preventing complications such as respiratory infections.”

Across Pakistan, there has been an increase in the numbers of recorded measles cases over the past two months. Worldwide, almost 200,000 children die each year from measles-related complications.

“Measles is an extremely contagious illness,” says Dr Shoaib. “If not treated in time, it may result in serious medical complications and even death, especially amongst malnourished patients. In eastern Balochistan, where malnutrition rates are relatively high, chances of complications are even a bigger risk.”

Symptoms include a rash which appears 10 to 14 days after exposure to the virus, as well as runny noses, coughs and eye infections. “We urge people to be vigilant and seek treatment if they are exhibiting symptoms,” says Dr Shoaib.  

MSF has been working with the Department of Health in its hospital in Dera Murad Jamali since 2010, providing emergency obstetric care, a 24-hour delivery room, a  neonatal ward, a paediatric ward, a therapeutic feeding programme and a health education programme. 

MSF has been working in Pakistan since 1986, with Pakistani communities and Afghan refugees affected by armed conflict, natural disasters or who lack access to medical care. MSF teams are currently providing free emergency medical care in Kurram Agency (FATA), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh provinces.

MSF relies solely on private financial contributions from individuals around the world for its work in Pakistan, and does not accept funding from any government, donor agency or military or politically-affiliated group.

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