The Ministry of Health is carrying out a nationwide Rubella and Measles vaccination program starting from the 27th of October till the 8th of November.
Measles is a highly contagious virus, spread by contact. Globally approximately 30 percent of reported measles cases have one or more complications. These debilitating effects are most common in children under five and adults over twenty. Poor children are more likely to be malnourished and have severe complications from measles. Even if a child recovers, he or she can be left with permanent disabilities.
Rubella also known as “German Measles” is generally a mild disease but can have serious consequences for pregnant women and their children. If infected with rubella in the first trimester women have a very high risk of giving birth to a child with Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS). CRS often results in multiple birth defects including as heart problems, deafness and blindness.
Measles and rubella and CRS, however, are entirely preventable and vaccination is one of the best methods.
Bhutan was officially declared one of the first two countries in South-East Asia Region (SEAR) of WHO to eliminate measles before the regional target of 2020.
However Dr. Karma Lhazeen, the Director of Public Health Department said that the measles elimination does not mean there will no cases reported as a few sporadic cases is expected.
After zero reported cases of measles in 2013 and 2014, despite having good Measles surveillance and coverage, small measles outbreaks during 2015, 2016 and 2017 was experienced.
“It was in isolated pockets of susceptible populations in geographically difficult terrains and migrant populations in border areas.” She said that every measles case reported in the country was investigated and confirmed through geno typing and epidemiological investigation to be imported cases. Bhutan sustained high Measles and Rubella immunization coverage over the last 10 years.