Chandigarh, 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 wasconducted 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.”