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‘Need action to avert Measles and Polio epidemics ’

  • Category
    Economy
  • Published
    16th Nov, 2020

The UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO) called for action to avert measles and polio epidemics as the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continued to disrupt immunisation services across the world.

Context

The UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO) called for action to avert measles and polio epidemics as the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continued to disrupt immunisation services across the world.

About

Measles

  • Measles is caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family. It is serious for small children.
  • The disease spreads through the air by respiratory droplets produced from coughing or sneezing.
  • Symptoms: Measles symptoms do not appear until 10 to 14 days after exposure. They include cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes, sore throat, fever and a red, blotchy skin rash.
  • Prevention: It is easily preventable by a vaccine.
  • Treatment: There is no treatment to get rid of an established measles infection, but over-the-counter fever reducers or vitamin A may help with symptoms.

Polio

  • Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus.
  • The virus spreads from person to person and can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis (can’t move parts of the body).
  • Most people who get infected with poliovirus (about 72 out of 100) will not have any visible symptoms.
    • About 1 out of 4 people with poliovirus infection will have flu-like symptoms that may include: Sore throat, Fever, Tiredness, Nausea, Headache and Stomach pain
    • These symptoms usually last 2 to 5 days, then go away on their own.
  • A smaller proportion of people with poliovirus infection will develop other, more serious symptoms that affect the brain and spinal cord:
    • Paresthesia(feeling of pins and needles in the legs)
    • Meningitis(infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain) occurs in about 1 out of 25 people with poliovirus infection
    • Paralysis (can’t move parts of the body) or weakness in the arms, legs, or both, occurs in about 1 out of 200 people with poliovirus infection.

The current situation of the disease

  • In 2019, measles climbed to the highest number of new infections in more than two decades.
  • At the same time, poliovirus transmission is expected to increase in Pakistan and Afghanistan and in many under-immunised areas of Africa.
  • Pakistan and Afghanistan are among the two countries where polio is still endemic. 

The situation

  • The United Nations’ bodies had warned of an alarming decline in the number of children receiving life-saving vaccines around the world due to disruptions in the delivery and uptake of immunisation services.
  • The disruptions could threaten to reverse hard-won progress to immunise more children and adolescents.
  • The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), of which WHO and UNICEF are the implementing agencies, had estimated budget for outbreak response.
  • However, the current budget and funding could not cover the extraordinary costs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting outbreaks of polio and other vaccine preventable diseases.
  • A total of $655 million ($400 million for polio; $255 million for measles) would be needed to address the immunity gaps in non-Gavi eligible countries and target age groups.

What about Gavi’s support?

  • Gavi, an international organisation that improves access to new and underused vaccines for children in the world’s poorest countries, bases eligibility on national income.
  • Countries become eligible for its support if their average gross national income per capita has been less than or equal to $1,630 over the past three years.
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