CHANDIGARH, India, 31 July 2017 – The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in association with UNICEF, WHO and partners held a pre-launch Regional Media workshop with journalists on the Measles Rubella vaccination campaign today. The participants at the discourse included senior representatives from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, officials from World Health Organisation (WHO), Immunization Technical Support Unit (ITSU – MoHFW), Lions Clubs, GHS, CDC and leading representatives of leading national and regional media from the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Chandigarh.
The deliberations focused on the introduction of critical new vaccines under the Universal Immunization Programme 2017-18. The forthcoming launch of the second phase of the measles-rubella campaign was discussed. The introduction of this new vaccine in the Universal Immunization Programe aims to reduce childhood mortality and protect children from the highly preventable major killer disease-measles. The first-time introduction of the rubella vaccine, in a combination MR shot, protects against irreversible and devastating birth defects. The MR campaign targets around 41 crore children, making it one of the largest ever immunization campaign of its kind.
Opening the meeting, Dr. Pradeep Haldar, Deputy Commissioner, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said, “Immunization is one of the most effective and cost-effective ways to protect children’s lives and futures. Through full immunization coverage, we can make sure that the benefits of life-saving vaccines reach every child. The recently introduced measles-rubella vaccine, which will be provided for free in schools, during the campaign, in health facilities and at outreach session sites, is another such step to achieving our goals.”
The first phase of MR campaign was conducted from February 2017 in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Puducherry and Lakshadweep and ~3.3 crore children were vaccinated. The second phase of the Measles Rubella Campaign will start from August 2017 targeting 3.4 crore children from 9 months to 15 years of children in states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Kerala, Uttrakhand, Daman & Diu, Dadar & Nagar Haveli.
On the occasion, Dr. Srinivasan, Sub Regional Team Leader, WHO said, “-World Health Organization congratulates India for launching one of the world’s largest vaccination campaign against measles, a major childhood killer disease, and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), responsible for irreversible birth defects. India has already beaten smallpox, polio, maternal and neonatal tetanus andyaws. Further gains in the battle against measles will help achieve a number of other public health priorities.
UNICEF in association with civil society organizations, partners and academia have been engaging with media as a critical stakeholder in efforts to create trust in vaccines and address myths around immunization to ensure every child in the country gets a fair start.
Addressing the gathering, Dr. Satish, Health Specialist, UNICEF India highlighted, "Media has been our long-standing partners in the fight against polio. We now seek your support to ensure that children, no matter where they live, are immunized. Vaccination not only saves children’s lives and ensure healthy and productive future, but is also one of the most cost-effective public health intervention.”
Note to the Editors:
Immunization is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions that currently averts an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths every year globally. India has one of the largest immunization programmes in the world, in terms of number of beneficiaries, geographical coverage and quantities of vaccine used, with nearly 26 million new born babies targeted for immunization each year. Over 9 million immunization sessions are held every year across the country.
However, despite this extensive coverage, only 65 per cent of the children in India received all vaccines during the first year of their life. To tackle the issue, the Government of India has launched Mission Indradhanush, a focused RI campaign, in pre-identified districts (http://www.missionindradhanush.in/) from across the country which account for majority of all unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children.
The measles-rubella campaign marks the introduction of the rubella vaccine in India’s childhood immunization programme for the first time. Rubella, which is commonly referred to as German measles is a mild infection, but can have serious consequences if it occurs in pregnant women. India’s newest MR vaccine also protects against measles, a major killer of small children. Highly contagious, it spreads through coughing and g 134,200 measles deaths globally in 2015, around 49,200 occurred in India – nearly 36 per cent. Those who survive are more vulnerable to its complications such as diarrhoea and pneumonia.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
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