New Delhi: Around $800 million is required to eliminate measles by 2020 from India and other countries of south and south east Asia, according to a senior World Health Organisation (WHO) official.
Measles is one of the major causes of death in children, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) jabs are one of the major public health interventions aimed at eliminating childhood deaths.
Pem Namgyal, director of family health, gender and life course at the WHO’s South East Asia office said that for unhampered progress against the viral disease WHO, a total of 400 million children in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Timor Leste and Indonesia must receive the Measles Rubella (MR) vaccine by 2018, while 140 million should be reached by the end of 2017.
She was speaking at the Regional Committee session of WHO South-East Asia in Maldives.
“Nearly $800 million is required for the elimination of measles from SEA countries such as India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Timor Leste and Indonesia by 2020 - the targeted time decided by the experts," said Namgyal.
India has made important gains in recent years. Measles deaths have declined by 51% from an estimated 100,000 in 2000 to 49,000 in 2015. This was made possible by significantly increasing the reach of the first dose of the measles vaccine, given at the age of nine months under routine immunization, from 56% in 2000 to 87% in 2015. In 2010 India introduced the second dose of measles-containing vaccine in the routine immunization programme to close the immunity gap and accelerate measles elimination. Nearly 118 million children aged nine months to 10 years were vaccinated during mass measles vaccination campaigns between 2010 and 2013 in select states of India.
In 2015, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization in India recommended introduction of a combined measles-rubella vaccine, as a nation-wide campaign covering children in the age group of 9 months to 15 years.
After the campaign, the MR vaccine will replace the current two doses of measles vaccine. The ongoing MR campaign in five states and union territories—Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Puducherry and Lakshadweep—to vaccinate 34.8 million children, has till date, reached 11.6 million children.
The Seventieth session of the Regional Committee is being held from 6-10 September and includes health ministers and senior health ministry officials of the Region’s 11 member countries—Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.