Collateral Damage – Analysing the Measles Outbreak | 25th November 2022 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about the ongoing measles outbreak in Mumbai and other parts of the country.


  • GS2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources;
  • Prelims

What's the crux of the article?

  • A measles outbreak in Mumbai has raised concerns amongst the country’s public health authorities.
  • A rise in measles cases has also been reported from Ranchi, Ahmedabad and Malappuram.
  • This indicates that the immunisation programmes — especially those focusing on DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) and measles — have taken a hit in India, in the past two years.

What is measles?

  • Measles, also called Rubeola, is a highly contagious, acute, and febrile respiratory viral disease.
  • It is a viral disease that can prove serious for young children, but it is easily preventable by the measles vaccine.
  • It is one of the main causes of worldwide mortality and morbidity, mostly in the regions of Africa and Southeast Asia.
  • The symptoms of measles include: High fever, Weakness, Cough, Runny nose, Pitted or cracked nails, A measles rash, Sore throat, Koplik spots inside the mouth, Muscle pain, Light sensitivity.

Immunisation programmes in India:

Universal Immunization Programme (UIP):

  • The Expanded Programme on Immunization was launched in 1978. It was renamed as Universal Immunization Programme in 1985 when its reach was expanded beyond urban areas.
  • UIP is one of the largest public health programmes targeting close to 2.67 crore newborns and 2.9 crore pregnant women annually.
  • It is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions and largely responsible for reduction of vaccine preventable under-5 mortality rate.
  • Under UIP, immunization is providing free of cost against 12 vaccine preventable diseases:
    • Nationally against 9 diseases:
      1. Diphtheria,
      2. Pertussis,
      3. Tetanus,
      4. Polio,
      5. Measles,
      6. Rubella,
      7. severe form of Childhood Tuberculosis,
      8. Hepatitis B
      9. Meningitis & Pneumonia (caused by Hemophilus Influenza type B)
    • Sub-nationally against 3 diseases:
      1. Rotavirus diarrhoea,
      2. Pneumococcal Pneumonia
      3. Japanese Encephalitis
  • A child is said to be fully immunized if the child receives all due vaccines as per national immunization schedule within the 1st year of child.
  • The two major milestones of UIP have been the elimination of polio in 2014 and maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination in 2015.

Mission Indradhanush:

  • Mission Indradhanush (MI) was launched in December 2014 and aims at increasing the full immunization coverage to children to 90%.
  • Under this drive focus is given on pockets of low immunization coverage and hard to reach areas where the proportion of unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children is highest.
  • It provides vaccination against 12 Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (VPD).

Reasons for measles outbreak:

  • a backslide in the universal immunisation programme during the pandemic.
  • only 41 per cent of the eligible children have been inoculated against measles in Mumbai
    vaccine hesitancy
  • WHO and UNICEF studies have shown that immunisation programmes — especially those focusing on DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) and measles — have taken a hit in low and mid-income countries, including India, in the past two years.
  • Early in the pandemic, the National Health Mission’s information system reported that at least 100,000 children missed their shots because of the restrictions on movement.
  • Experts had cautioned that even a 5 per cent fall in the vaccination rate can disrupt herd immunity and precipitate an outbreak.

Way Forward:

  • To ensure that the gains of the Universal Immunization Program are not undone by health emergencies, the Union and State Health Agencies must collaborate to find a solution to the aforementioned issues.

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