What have been India’s plans so far to vanish measles and rubella, once and for all?
The country is all set to free its citizens from the threat of measles and rubella forever this year. The target to vanish measles and rubella (MR) was missed in the year 2020, due to a myriad of reasons. The year 2020 was the year of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, and thus, it is easy to guess why the target could not be fulfilled. However, the deadline got extended to 2023, which has already begun.
Well, the target to eradicate MR is not a new intent. Earlier, it was decided that India would be free of measles and rubella by the year 2015, however, the target could not be achieved due to several reasons and the date got extended further.
Then, in 2019, India made a firm intent to eradicate the two deadly diseases, measles, and rubella by the year 2023.
How crucial is the target of eradicating measles and rubella?
Before that, let us first know why eradicating measles is so important for the country.
The stats speak for themselves. The measles virus is nothing but one of the most contagious human viruses in the world. More than 1,00,000 children every year are killed by measles globally. Rubella, on the other hand, is the top vaccine-preventable cause of birth defects, as stated by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The silver lining is no matter how deadly measles and rubella are, just two shots of an effective and safe vaccine can prevent one from them.
The vaccine for measles has warded off over 30 million deaths across the globe, according to the statistics by World Health Organization. One can imagine the havoc that could have arisen in the absence of a vaccine for measles.
The symptoms of both measles and rubella are almost the same. A measles or rubella-infected person might experience fever and a rash. Measles can be highly fatal, sometimes even leading to death. On the other hand, if a pregnant woman gets infected by rubella, it may cause a drastic impact on the fetus, even leading to birth defects.
The outbreak of measles in 2022
Yes. last year, viz., in 2022, authorities were warned by a sudden outbreak of measles in Maharashtra. Most of these cases belonged to Mumbai.
According to media statistics, hundreds of people got infected, out of which 15 children lost their lives to the deadly disease. Ironically, this outbreak occurred just one year before the targeted year.
Steps were taken by India so far to eradicate MR- A Timeline
A notable paper, Progress Toward Measles and Rubella Elimination- India, 2005-2021 has offered substantial data surrounding the matter. As per the paper, India has a myriad of steps in fighting against measles and rubella. Let’s take a look at all of these!
From the year 2010 to 2013, the country held, in phases, a measles catch-up immunization for children of ages between 9 months to 10 years in 14 states of the country, thereby safeguarding the lives of 119 million children with the help of vaccines.
In the year 2014, India rolled out Mission Indradhanush to safeguard the unvaccinated population of the country with vaccinations.
In the time phase between the years 2017 and 2021, the country welcomed a national strategic plan for the elimination of measles and rubella. Moreover, India also introduced the rubella-containing vaccine (RCV) into the regular immunization program. Additionally, the country also rolled out a pan India measles-rubella supplementary immunization activity (SIA) catch-up campaign.
Not to miss, the country also shifted to case-based surveillance from outbreak-based rash and acute fever surveillance. In these years, the number of laboratories made to use in the measles-rubella network doubled.