Measles and Rubella (MR)

Measles and Rubella (MR)

News: India set a goal (in 2019) to eradicate measles and rubella (MR) by 2023 after missing the previous deadline of 2020 for a number of reasons, worsened by the pandemic’s disruptions. 

What is Measles and Rubella?
• Measles and Rubella (German measles) are contagious viral disease that is spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing.
• Measles is caused by a single-stranded, enveloped RNA virus with 1 serotype. It is classified as a member of the genus Morbillivirus in the Paramyxoviridae family. Humans are the only natural hosts of measles virus.
• Measles and Rubella have similar symptoms. However, rubella is a milder viral infection than measles. Rubella infection in pregnant women may cause foetal death or congenital defects known as congenital rubella syndrome
• Both of them can be entirely prevent with a two-dose of MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine.

What complications it can lead to?
• Common complications from measles include otitis media, bronchopneumonia, laryngotracheobronchitis, and diarrhea.
• Even in previously healthy children, measles can cause serious illness requiring hospitalization.
• One out of every 1,000 measles cases will develop acute encephalitis, which often results in permanent brain damage.
• One to three out of every 1,000 children who become infected with measles will die from respiratory and neurologic complications.

Why eliminating MR is important?
• According to the WHO, the measles virus is one of the world’s most contagious human viruses that kills more than 1,00,000 children every year globally and rubella is a leading cause of birth defects.
• An outbreak of measles in Maharashtra in 2022, particularly in Mumbai, killed 15 children among several hundred who contracted the infection.

What has India done to achieve the targets?
• During 2010-2013, India conducted a phased measles catch-up immunization 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 MR elimination, and introduced rubella-containing vaccine (RCV) into the routine immunization programme, besides launching a nationwide MR supplementary immunization activity (SIA) catch-up campaign.
• Additionally, it changed the focus of acute fever and rash surveillance from outbreak-based to case-based. 
• The number of laboratories in the MR network has more than doubled.

What is the need of the hour?
• If the immunization rate is maintained at 95% for under-one-year population we can reach our objectives. However, it must follow a district-by-district approach. 
• Monitoring the progress and providing additional inputs to the districts that are lagging in implementing the immunization.
• In the process, it is important to provide full support (improve their service conditions, and salaries) to the ground-level staff (village health nurses, ASHA, Anganwadi and ICDS workers) who implement the programme.

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