11 July, 2020
5 Min Read
Measles and Rubella
GS-Paper-3 Health and Children
Recently, the Maldives and Sri Lanka have become the first two countries in the World Health Organisation’s South-East Asian Region (WHO SEAR) to have eliminated both measles and rubella ahead of the 2023 deadline. In September 2019, member countries of WHO SEAR set 2023 as the target for the elimination of measles and rubella.
The announcement came after the 5th meeting of the SEAR Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination. The Commission comprises 11 independent international experts in the fields of epidemiology, virology and public health.
Bhutan, DPR Korea and Timor-Leste are countries in the region which have eliminated measles. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste have controlled Rubella.
A country is verified as having eliminated measles and rubella when there is no evidence of endemic transmission of the respective viruses for over three years in the presence of a well-performing surveillance system.
The Maldives reported its last endemic case of measles in 2009 and of rubella in October 2015. Sri Lanka reported the last endemic case of measles in May 2016 and of rubella in March 2017.
Measures and Vaccinations
India and Measles
Despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine since the 1960s, both measles and rubella are major public health concerns in India.
More than 1.3 million children acquire measles infection and around 49000 infected children die each year, contributing nearly 36% to the global figures.
Rubella infection in pregnant women may cause fetal death or congenital defects. It leads to the development of birth defects in almost 40,000 children annually in the country.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the MR Vaccination program in 2017. The MR campaign targets around 41 crore children across the country, the largest ever in any campaign.
All children aged between 9 months and less than 15 years are given a single shot of MR vaccination irrespective of their previous measles/rubella vaccination status or measles/rubella disease status. MR vaccines are provided free-of-cost across the states. Other Initiatives include Universal Immunization Programme (UIP), Mission Indradhanush and Intensified Mission Indradhanush.
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