Maharashtra: Act fast, Centre tells state on measles outbreak

Amid the surge in measles infections and deaths in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, the Union Health Ministry has told the State Government to strengthen its surveillance mechanism and undertake a head count of all children aged between six months and five years in the outbreak areas to facilitate full MRCV (measles- and rubella-containing vaccines) coverage quickly.

FPJ Political BureauUpdated: Thursday, November 24, 2022, 08:19 AM IST
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Measles (Representative Image) | NIH Medline Plus

Mumbai: Amid the surge in measles infections and deaths in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, the Union Health Ministry has told the State Government to strengthen its surveillance mechanism and undertake a head count of all children aged between six months and five years in the outbreak areas to facilitate full MRCV (measles- and rubella-containing vaccines) coverage quickly.

In a three-page letter, Joint Secretary DP Ashok Babu urged Maharashtra’s Principal Secretary for Public Health Sanjay Khandare to direct the officials concerned to initiate prompt action on measles outbreak response.

‘A rapid rise in number of cases and some mortality has been observed specifically in the BMC and other districts,’ Dr Ashok Babu wrote. ‘This is of particular concern from a public health point of view. It is clear that in all such geographies, affected children were predominantly unvaccinated….

‘Adequate availability of vaccines across all blocks/districts may be ensured for the vaccination campaign,’ the Joint Secretary continued. ‘The state may communicate demand for additional vaccine requirements to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.’

The letter also asked the State Government to activate the institutionalised mechanism of district task force on immunisation under the chairmanship of the collector to review the situation on a daily/weekly basis and plan the response accordingly.

‘The disease is known to be fatal among children with moderate and severe malnourishment. Therefore, as part of the case identification and management, house-to-house search activities to identify such vulnerable children and provide pre-emptive care with nutritional and Vitamin A supplementation is necessary,’ Dr Ashok Babu wrote.

The state has also been asked to disseminate correct information about measles symptoms and treatment among the public for early identification and prompt management of cases. Caregivers must be made aware of danger signs needing immediate hospitalisation such as persistent diarrhoea, rapid breathing with chest in-drawing (pneumonia) and ear discharge.

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