India 2020: Ambitious vaccination campaign aims to eliminate measles and rubella

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The measles-rubella vaccination program in India aims to eliminate measles and control rubella by 2020. Image Courtesy :
The measles-rubella vaccination program in India aims to eliminate measles and control rubella by 2020. Image Courtesy : Pixabay

The World Health Organisation‘s (WHO) sustainable development target 3.2 aims to end the preventable deaths of children under five years old by the year 2030.

In addressing these efforts, India has set out to achieve the elimination of measles and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) by 2020. The Indian Government has taken on this campaign encouraged by the successful elimination of polio (2011) and maternal and neonatal tetanus and yaws (2016) in the previous years.

Of the 134,000 measles deaths globally in 2015, an estimated 47,000 occurred in India.

From 2010 to 2015, the incidence of death by measles in India has dropped dramatically from a 100,000 deaths in 2010 to 47,000 deaths in 2015. Following on this success, the measles-rubella vaccination campaign hopes to reduce the incidence of rubella virus caused impairments like hearing defects, eye and heart problems and brain damage in newborns.

Currently, of the 110,000 cases reported globally 40,000 children are born with CRS in India alone.

The rubella vaccine will ride on the already present national immunisation programme for measles administered to infants at 9-12 months and 16-24 months across the nation, thereby adding minimal cost to the programme’s implementation.

All children will receive the vaccine free at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age. Image Courtesy : Pixabay
All children will receive the vaccine free at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age. Image Courtesy : Pixabay

The vaccine will be produced by the Serum Institute of India based in Pune, Maharashtra, and will be implemented in four phases over eighteen months targeting 410 million children nationwide. The first phase will cover the regions of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Goa and Lakshadweep with free combination vaccines for all infants and toddlers. Children aged 15 years old would also receive the combination vaccine, according to WHO, considering a single dose of rubella vaccine gives more than 95% long-lasting immunity.

In order for the campaign to be successful in eradicating measles and controlling CRS by 2020, the vaccine coverage would have to be over 95% during the campaign and following immunisation programme. The campaign would also need support through extended surveillance efforts, outbreak preparedness, rapid response to disease outbreaks through community vaccination and timely treatment of cases anywhere in the country.

Source:The Hindu