06 February 2017 Current Affairs: The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched Measles Rubella (MR) vaccination campaign in the country at Bengaluru, Karnataka. It is largest ever in any campaign against these two diseases will start from five States/UTs viz. Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Goa and Lakshadweep covering nearly 3.6 crore target children.
The MR campaign is largest ever vaccination campaign aimed to target around 41 crore children across the country against two diseases. Under it all children aged between 9 months and less than 15 years will be given a single shot of Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccination free-of-cost acros irrespective of their previous vaccination status or disease status. Measles vaccine is currently provided under Universal Immunization Programme (UIP).
However, rubella vaccine will be a new addition to it. After the completion of the campaign, MR vaccine will be introduced in routine immunization and will replace measles vaccine, given at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age of child.
Measles immunization will directly contribute in reduction of under-five child mortality and with combination of rubella vaccine, it will control rubella and prevent CRS (congenital rubella syndrome) in country population.
Measles is a deadly disease and one of the important causes of death in children. It is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing of an infected person. It can make a child vulnerable to life threatening complications such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and brain infection. Globally, in 2015, measles killed an estimated 1, 34,200 children, mostly under-five years. In India, it killed an estimated 49,200 children.
Rubella is generally a mild infection, but has serious consequences if infection occurs in pregnant women, causing CRS, which is a cause of public health concern. CRS is characterized by congenital anomalies in the foetus and newborns affecting the eyes (cataract, glaucoma), ears (hearing loss), brain (mental retardation, microcephaly) and heart defects, causing a huge socio-economic burden on the families in particular and society in general. In 2010, an estimated 1,03,000 children were born with CRS globally, of which around 47,000 children (46%) were in South-East Asia Region.