In News: India has set a target to eliminate measles and rubella (MR) by 2023, having missed the previous one in 2020.
More On India’s Plan to Eradicate Measles & Rubella
- India had missed the target due to a variety of reasons, worsened by disruptions due to the pandemic. An earlier target that was set for 2015 was also missed.
- In 2019, India adopted the goal of measles and rubella elimination by 2023, anticipating that the 2020 goal could not be reached.
Importance of Achieving Targets
- Role in infant deaths: The measles virus is the world’s most contagious human virus that kills more than 1,00,000 children across the globe every year.
- WHO’s statistics say that the measles vaccine is estimated to have averted more than 30 million deaths globally, in the past two decades.
- Easily preventable: Rubella is a leading vaccine-preventable cause of birth defects in children. Both of these diseases can be easily prevented by just two doses of a safe and effective vaccine.
Efforts to Achieve Targets
- Phased catch-up: India conducted phased measles catch-up immunisation for children aged 9 months–10 years in 14 States, vaccinating approximately 119 million children.
- Mission Indhradhanush: Mission Indradhanush adopted a national strategic plan for measles and rubella elimination and included rubella-containing vaccine (RCV) into the routine immunisation programme.
- Change in surveillance approach: India’s efforts transitioned from outbreak-based surveillance to case-based acute fever and rash surveillance.
- Laboratory network: To improve the detection of cases, the government has doubled the number of laboratories in the measles-rubella network.
Steps Towards Achieving Targets
- District-wise targets: Each district has to be given a target to achieve the required rate of immunisation, and conduct a robust fever and rash surveillance programme, besides testing for MR.
- Districts that are unable to achieve the targets have to be identified and additional efforts have to be made to improve their numbers.
- Ground-level support: Ground-level staff such as village health nurses, ASHA (accredited social health activists) workers, anganwadi and ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) workers have to be given full support.
- The best way to ensure a target-driven approach is successful is to make sure that the people given the tasks are happy doing their job.
- Strengthening surveillance: Surveillance can be strengthened by finding, investigating, and collecting and testing a sample for every suspected case, in each district in every State and UT.
- The mission of the Ministry of Health was introduced to achieve full immunization coverage for all children (up to two years of age) and pregnant women.
- Diseases covered under Indradhanush:
- Initially, diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, measles, whooping cough, meningitis and Hepatitis B were covered under the mission.
- Rubella, Japanese Encephalitis, Injectable Polio Vaccine Bivalent and Rotavirus were added in 2016.
- Pneumonia was added to the Mission in 2017 by incorporating the Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine under Universal Immunisation Programme.