33.9 million children of the country will get vaccination for measles and rubella (MR) during a three-week campaign starting on March 18.
The children within the age group—nine months to under 10 years—will receive the MR vaccine. Out of them, 15.6 million are of nine months to less than five years age and 18.2 million are of five years to less than 10 years age group.
To reach the goals of measles, rubella and CRS (congenital rubella syndrome) elimination, a dose of measles and rubella (MR) vaccine will be provided to all children from nine months to under 10 years of age irrespective of their previous vaccination status or illness from measles or rubella.
The announcement came at a media consultation on Measles Rubella Vaccination Campaign 2020 organised by UNICEF Bangladesh at a hotel in the capital on Tuesday.
Led by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), with support from UNICEF, Gavi and World Health Organization (WHO), the campaign aims to provide one dose of MR vaccine to all nine-month to less than 10 years old children to rapidly reduce the transmission of measles-rubella virus.
The MR vaccination will be provided through sites at educational institutes from March 18 to March 24 and routine outreach session sites in the communities from March 28 to April 11.
Dr Md Shamsul Haque, line director, MNC&AH, Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) delivered the inaugural speech.
Jucy Merina Adhikari, health specialist, UNICEF Bangladesh and Professor Shah Monir Hossain, national consultant-immunization at World Health Organization (WHO), also spoke at the function.
Dr Mowla Baksh Chaudhury, programme manager-EPI (Expanded Programme on Immunization), DGHS, presented a keynote paper at the function.
In the keynote, Dr Mowla said the Measles Rubella Vaccination Campaign 2020 aims to achieve national level 95 per cent measles and rubella coverage and reaching measles, rubella and CRS (congenital rubella syndrome) elimination status by 2023.
85-95 per cent of children received the first dose and 80-85 per cent received the second dose of MR vaccine from 2016-2018, he said citing a report.
The country witnessed an increase in measles incidence from 1.6 million in 2015 to 27.1 million in 2019, Chaudhury disclosed.
Age distribution of measles cases showed that 76 per cent children in 2017 and 79 per cent children in 2018 are less than 10 years of age, Mr Baksh said.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Shamsul Haque said this additional campaign MR dose will rapidly build up immunity for both measles and rubella and reduce measles and rubella transmission in the community.
This will be a major step towards reducing measles mortality burden in the country and reducing disabilities among children due to (CRS) congenital rubella syndrome, Mr Haque said.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) has been working since 1979 to reduce child mortality in the country, Dr Shamsul said.
Amongst our immunisation priorities, it is the nation’s aim to attain measles elimination status by 2023 by reaching 95 per cent measles-rubella (MR) vaccination coverage, he added.
Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with frequent internal migration. Hence, the transmission potential for measles is likely to be greater in Bangladesh than other countries.
The national coverage evaluation surveys during the past years indicate MR1 (MR first dose) coverage has remained at 86.6 per cent and 87.5 per cent in the years 2014 and 2016 respectively and MR2 (MR second dose) coverage from 70 per cent in 2014 to 83 per cent in 2016.
However, the number of measles cases has increased over the last four years due to low routine coverage of MR1 and MR2 in many upazilas and districts and pockets of low coverage during MR SIAs (Supplementary immunisation activities) in the year 2014.
Almost every month of the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 (upto September) had more laboratory confirmed measles cases compared to the months of 2016.
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