By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • In 2022, Delhi witnessed 543 reported measles cases, a significant increase compared to the previous four years. Eight deaths were reported due to the viral infection in 2022.
  • The reasons for the surge in measles cases includes under-reporting of measles cases in previous years; impact of COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 and 2021; and strengthened surveillance for measles in 2022.

More about the news

  • Measles is a highly contagious viral infection causing fever, cough, rashes, and severe complications like encephalitis and pneumonia.
  • It can lead to death and is linked with secondary infections.
  • Surveillance for measles was strengthened in 2022, with testing for measles in patients reporting fever and rashes. High positivity rates were observed as a result.
  • Measles cases were concentrated in four districts: Shahdara, northeast, east, and southeast.
  • Most infected children were between 5 to 15 years old, with clusters of cases in areas with close living conditions.
  • The health department provided additional vaccine doses of measles and rubella to children aged 15 and below. Typically, two doses are given, but additional doses were administered to curb the outbreak.
  • The health department shifted to case-based surveillance, investigating each reported case.
  • The goal is to eliminate measles by strengthening surveillance and vaccination efforts.
  • Nutritional health plays a role, as malnourished children are still susceptible to the virus despite vaccination.
  • Lack of awareness and refusal by some parents contribute to low vaccination rates.
Measles and Rubella (MR)

·       India set a target to eliminate Measles and Rubella (MR) by 2023, having missed the earlier deadline of 2020, due to various reasons exacerbated by disruptions caused by the pandemic.

·       It is a highly contagious viral disease-causing death among young children worldwide.

·       Caused by a single-stranded, enveloped RNA virus (genus Morbillivirus in the Paramyxoviridae family).

·       Particularly dangerous for malnourished and immunocompromised children.

·       Can lead to serious complications such as blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infections, and pneumonia.

·       Rubella is also called German Measles. It is a contagious, generally mild viral infection that occurs most often in children and young adults. It is caused by the rubella virus which is an enveloped single-stranded RNA virus.

Measures to curb Measles and Rubella

·       India conducted measles catch-up immunization from 2010 to 2013 for children aged 9 months to 10 years.

·       Mission Indradhanush launched in 2014 to vaccinate the unvaccinated population.

·       India adopted a national strategic plan for measles and rubella elimination from 2017 to 2021.

·       Measles-Rubella Vaccination: A campaign targeting approximately 41 crore children across India, regardless of their previous vaccination or disease status.

·       Universal Immunization Program (UIP): Ongoing program to provide vaccines against various diseases, including MR.

·       Mission Indradhanush: Launched in 2014 to increase vaccination coverage among the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated population.

·       Intensified Mission Indradhanush: A more focused effort to reach underserved and unreached populations.

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