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WHO South-East Asia Region plans to banish measles, rubella by 2023

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Issues related to health.

 

WHO South-East Asia Region plans to banish measles, rubella by 2023

 

What to study?

For Prelims: About Measles and Rubella.

For Mains: Spread, concerns and ways to eliminate them.

 

Context: Member-countries of the World Health Organisation (WHO) South-East Asia Region have resolved to eliminate highly infectious childhood killer diseases measles and rubella by 2023.

  • A resolution to eliminate the diseases was adopted at the 72nd session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia in Delhi.

 

How the new target is to be achieved?

  1. By strengthening the immunisation systems for increasing and sustaining high level of population immunity against the two diseases at both the national and sub-national levels.
  2. By ensuring a highly sensitive laboratory supported case-based surveillance system – better evidence for appropriate planning and response.
  3. By mobilising political, societal and financial support to ensure the interruption of transmission of indigenous measles and rubella virus by 2023.

The need for elimination:

Eliminating measles will prevent 500,000 deaths a year in the region, while eliminating rubella/ CRS would avert about 55,000 cases of rubella and promote health and wellbeing of pregnant women and infants.

 

About Measles:

What is It? Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. Spread: Measles is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons.

Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10–12 days after infection, include high fever, a runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.

Vulnerability: Severe measles is more likely among poorly nourished young children, especially those with insufficient vitamin A, or whose immune systems have been weakened by HIV/AIDS or other diseases.

The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhoea and related dehydration, and severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.

Prevention: Routine measles vaccination for children, combined with mass immunization campaigns in countries with low routine coverage, are key public health strategies to reduce global measles deaths.

Preventive efforts: Under the Global Vaccine Action Plan, measles and rubella are targeted for elimination in five WHO Regions by 2020. WHO is the lead technical agency responsible for coordination of immunization and surveillance activities supporting all countries to achieve this goal.

 

Rubella:

It is generally a mild infection, but has serious consequences if infection occurs in pregnant women, causing congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), which is a cause of public health concern. CRS is characterized by congenital anomalies in the foetus and newborns affecting the eyes (glaucoma, cataract), ears (hearing loss), brain (microcephaly, mental retardation) and heart defects, causing a huge socio-economic burden on the families in particular and society in general.

Sources: the Hindu.