This Expert Advisory Group will recommend strategies to end the scourge of these killer and debilitating diseases by 2020.
India has made important gains in recent years.
- Measles deaths have declined by 51% from an estimated 100,000 in the year 2000 to 49 000 in 2015.
- This has been possible by significantly increasing the reach of the first dose of measles vaccine, given at the age of nine months under routine immunization programme, from 56% in 2000 to 87% in 2015.
- In 2010 India introduced the second dose of measles-containing vaccine in routine immunization programme to close the immunity gap and accelerate measles elimination.
- Nearly 11.8 crore children aged nine months to 10 years were vaccinated during mass measles vaccination campaigns between 2010 and 2013 in select states of the country.
- During the recent annual Union Budget presentation, the government reiterated its commitment to measles elimination.
Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for WHO in South-East Asia said…
“India’s measles and rubella vaccination campaign is a truly remarkable, world-beating effort, with 41 crore children expected to be covered across the country in the next two years. Apart from improving the life-chances of crores of children in India, the campaign will have a substantial effect on global measles mortality and rubella control targets.,”
Measles is one of the major causes of death in children and the public health importance of rubella is due to congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), which occurs when rubella infection occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy. CRS is characterized by severe irreversible birth defects affecting the eyes (glaucoma, cataract), ears (hearing loss), brain (microcephaly, mental retardation) and heart.
In 2015, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization recommended introduction of rubella vaccine as combined measles-rubella vaccine, as a nation-wide campaign, covering children in the age group of 9 months to less than 15 years age group. After the campaign, MR vaccine is scheduled to be introduced in routine immunization, replacing the currently giv
en two doses of measles vaccine.
The ongoing MR campaign in five states – Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Puducherry & Lakshadweep, to vaccinate 3.48 crore children, has till date, reached 1.16 crore children.
Measles is a highly contagious infection caused by the measles virus.
Measles is an airborne disease which spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of those infected. It may also be spread through contact with saliva or nasal secretions.
The measles vaccine is effective at preventing the disease. Vaccination has resulted in a 75% decrease in deaths from measles between 2000 and 2013 with about 85% of children globally being currently vaccinated. No specific treatment is available. Supportive care may improve outcomes. This may include giving oral rehydration solution (slightly sweet and salty fluids), healthy food, and medications to control the fever. Antibiotics may be used if a secondary bacterial infection such as pneumonia occurs. Vitamin A supplementation is also recommended in the developing world