India had set a target to eliminate measles and rubella (MR) by 2023, having missed the earlier deadline of 2020, seeing disruptions due to the pandemic.
About the Disease:
Measles is a highly infectious condition.
Scientists have identified 21 strains of the measles virus
There is no specific treatment for measles
Dry hacking cough
Conjunctivitis, or swollen eyelids and inflamed eyes
Photophobia, or sensitivity to light
A reddish-brown rash
Koplik's spots or very small greyish-white spots with bluish-white centres in the mouth, insides of cheeks, and throat.
Generalized body aches
There are two types of measles:
Measles: This is the standard form caused by the rubeola virus.
Rubella or German measles: This is caused by the rubella virus.
Rubella generally presents as mild but presents more of a risk to unborn infants than young children if a woman contracts the virus while she is pregnant.
It is neither as infectious nor as severe as standard measles.
The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines contain immunizations for both types.
Spread of Measles and Rubella in India:
According to the latest Global Measles and Rubella Update, India had 56,399 confirmed measles cases and 1,066 confirmed rubella cases in 2018.
As per WHO, measles is a leading cause of death in children, with one-third (around 56,000 in 2011) of all measles deaths worldwide happening in India.
Rubella causes birth defects, such as irreversible deafness and blindness in nearly 40 thousand children in India every year.
At least 220 million children from 30 states and union territories have already been vaccinated under the nationwide campaign that started in 2017.
Need for emergency action:
The measles virus is one of the world’s most contagious human viruses that kill more than 1, 00,000 children every year globally, and rubella is a leading vaccine-preventable cause of birth defects.
Both measles and rubella can be prevented by just two doses of a safe and effective vaccine.
Over the past two decades, the measles vaccine is estimated to have averted more than 30 million deaths globally, as per the WHO’s statistics.
While measles has a high fatality rate, rubella infection in a pregnant woman will have an impact on the foetus, resulting in birth defects.
India’s plan to eradicate MR diseases:
During 2010–2013, India conducted a phased measles catch-up immunisation for children aged 9 months–10 years in 14 States, vaccinating approximately 119 million children.
Mission Indradhanush was launched in 2014 to ramp up vaccinating the unvaccinated population.
During 2017–2021, India adopted a national strategic plan for measles and rubella elimination, and introduced rubella-containing vaccine (RCV) into the routine immunisation programme, besides launching a nationwide measles-rubella supplementary immunisation activity (SIA) catch-up campaign.
It also transitioned from outbreak-based surveillance to case-based acute fever and rash surveillance, and more than doubled the number of laboratories in the measles-rubella network.