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Slackness in measles immunisation: SHC reserves order on contempt plea

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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday reserved its order on a contempt of court application over the non-implementation of a judgment on the eradication of measles and rubella via an effective immunisation campaign.

In 2014, the SHC while disposing of a petition and hearing initiated on a suo moto notice had directed the provincial government to launch an awareness campaign as well as immunisation drive to eradicate the disease from the province.

Later the petitioner, Advocate Zulfiqar Ali Langah and Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research (PILER) filed an application for initiating contempt of court proceedings against the Sindh government for not following the court directives.

When the contempt of court application came up for hearing on Monday before a two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh, provincial secretary health Zulfiqar Shah appeared before the court and submitted that a vaccination drive for measles and rubella is being launched from Monday (today).

During the drive, stated the secretary, 18.6 million children across the province in homes, public and private schools, and madrassahs, as well as informal schools, would be vaccinated against measles and rubella. Police, rangers and the army will provide security cover to 160,000 vaccination staff, he added.

The chief justice directed the secretary to file a written reply in this connection and observed that the court would pass its order on contempt of court application.

Zulfiqar Langah advocate in a letter written in May 2014 to the then chief justice had invited SHC’s attention towards the death of 48 children infected by measles and rubella in Sujawal and Thatta districts of Sindh.

The lawyer had stated that despite the outbreak of the deadly diseases provincial health authorities and the government of Sindh failed to take notice of these deaths. He pleaded to the court to take notice of the issue.

The then Chief Justice of Sindh had granted the request and converted the application into a constitutional petition. Later, Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research (PILER) had joined the proceeding as an intervener.

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