By A Staff Reporter Kathmandu, Sept. 16: Last week, two persons in Jajarkot were diagnosed with measles. This has hinted at the possibility of a measles outbreak. The health experts have said that as children's regular access to vaccines was hindered because of the COVID-19 pandemic, other infectious diseases might also increase in the nation. Measles is a highly contagious disease, caused by the measles virus, which affects children aged below five years.
Former Director at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division Dr. Baburam Marasini said, "As measles is highly infectious and can spiral 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 not regularly vaccinated in the past year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The pandemic has affected the government's immunisation programmes. Thus, measles, which was almost eliminated, has been detected again," 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 said that cases of measles were being detected due to the lack of access to vaccines. "It is imperative to ensure the administration 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 execute vaccination campaigns against measles. "A team of health professionals has already reached the area in Jajarkot from where two cases of measles were reported," said Dahal, adding that the measles virus was under control in Jajarkot.
"Also, the Health Ministry has maintained high alertness to ensure that no case of measles is reported in the upcoming days," said Dahal. "For this, the regular immunisation programme has already got underway." Stating that the restriction order imposed to control the spread of coronavirus had prevented many children from receiving the regular jabs, Dahal said that the immunisation programme would be expanded soon to cover all the children across the nation.