By Bishnu Pandey, Kathmandu, Sep. 15: Last week, two persons in Jajarkot were diagnosed with measles. This has hinted that the possibility of a Measles outbreak.
The health experts have said that as children's regular access to vaccines was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic, other infectious diseases might increase in the nation.
Measles is a highly contagious disease, caused by the Measles virus, which highly affects children below five years of age.
Former Director at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division Dr. Baburam Marasini said, "As Measles is highly infectious and can turn into an epidemic in no time, it is vital to control its spread as soon as possible."
He said that the threat of the spread of measles had increased as children were regularly vaccinated in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "The pandemic affected the government's immunisation programmes. Thus, Measles, which was almost eliminated, has again been detected," said Dr. Marasini.
Stating that one in every three children suffering from Measles could lose his/her life, Dr. Marasini stressed the urgency to conduct regular immunisation programmes at the earliest. "We will have to face yet another pandemic if 90 per cent of children are not inoculated soon," he added.
Similarly, infectious disease specialist Dr. Sher Bahadur Pun also said that the cases of Measles were being detected due to the lack of access to vaccines.
"It is imperative to ensure the effectiveness of regular vaccines in children. As vaccination is the only reliable way to treat Measles, the concerned authorities must focus on expanding the immunisation programmes against the disease in every nook and corner of the country," said Dr. Pun.
Meanwhile, Sagar Dahal, chief of the Child Health and Immunisation Section of the Department of Health Services, said that the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) was preparing to enforce vaccination campaigns against Measles.
"A team of health professionals have already rescued the area in Jajarkot where two cases of Measles were reported," said Dahal, adding that the spread of the Measles virus was under control in Jajarkot.
"Also, the Health Ministry has opted for high alertness to ensure that no cases of Measles are reported in the upcoming days," said Dahal. "For this, the regular immunisation programme has already kicked off."
Stating that the prohibitory order imposed to control the spread of coronavirus had prevented many children from receiving the regular jabs, Chief Dahal said that the immunisation programme would be expanded to cover all children across the nation.