Why in News?                                                                                                        

In recognition of country’s tireless efforts to combat Measles and Rubella, India has been bestowed with the prestigious Measles and Rubella Champion Award by The Measles and Rubella Partnership at the American Red Cross Headquarters in Washington D.C., USA on March 6th, 2024. Ambassador Sripriya Ranganathan, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Washington D.C. received the award on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.

What is Measels?

  • Measles is a highly contagious viral disease caused by Morbillivirus in the Paramyxoviridae family.
  • Transmission: It spreads through the breaths, coughs or sneezes of an infected person.
  • Children are most susceptible to the disease with their respiratory tract getting infected first
  • Symptoms: Include a high fever, cough, runny nose, and a rash all over the body.
  • Mortality: An estimated 128 000 people died from measles in 2021 – mostly children under the age of five years, despite the availability of a safe and cost-effective vaccine.

What is Rubella?

  • It is a contagious viral infection best known by its distinctive red rash.
  • It’s also called German measles or three-day measles.
  • Rubella Infection is particularly serious for unborn babies whose mothers become infected during pregnancy.
  • Rubella infection in pregnant women may cause death or congenital defects known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS)
  • Treatment: The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe and highly effective in preventing rubella. The vaccine provides lifelong protection against rubella.
  • India’s initiative
    • Measles and Rubella are vaccine preventable diseases and MMR Vaccine is part of India’s Universal Immunization Programme since 2017.
    • India’s target: It aims to eradicate measles by 2023 while vaccinating 95% of the population with two doses of the measles vaccine under the Intensified Mission Indradhanush.
    • Strategy used: A proactive MR vaccination campaign in specific high-risk areas Reach underserved populations through innovative reach Robust surveillance systems, and effective public-awareness initiatives The robust network of and last mile reach of country’s frontline health workers, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and communities across the nation.
    • India uses measles as a tracer to strengthen routine immunization under the country’s Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) providing regional leadership to the measles & rubella elimination programme