Daya (14) was born with Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS). Consequently, she is deafblind and needs regular care. The medical treatment and running from pillar to post has cost a lot of financial burden on the family. lt is a direct result of her mother not being vaccinated for Rubella. Had her mother been aware about Rubella and its prevention, Daya would not have been a part of the 500,000 deafblind people in India.
The World Health Organization dedicates the last week of April (24-30) as the World Immunization Week with the aim to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against diseases. This year’s campaign focuses on closing the immunization gap and reaching equity in immunization levels. It is a framework to prevent millions of deaths by 2020 through universal access to vaccines for people in all communities.
Keeping in sync with the global theme of the World Immunization Week on the importance of vaccination, we want to share with you the following developments regarding the immunization gap in India.
Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) is one of the major causes of deafblindness in children in India.
Rubella infection in children often goes unnoticed given that the disease is symptomatically similar to measles, often called three—day measles, but can have life altering consequences!
What is Rubella?
Babies born with CRS display varied characteristics from least affected to severe disabilities. Professionals believe that the most severe disabilities are caused if the mother has rubella in the early months of pregnancy when the developing baby has little resistance to infection.
Rubella is one of the main causes of Deafblindness, a unique disability that brings enormous challenges to the children and those who support them. Because about 95% of what we learn about the world comes through sight and hearing, deafblind children face unique challenges in communication, mobility and accessing information, making deafblindness one of the most isolating disabilities. However, with early intervention and appropriate support it is possible for deafblind children to lead quality lives.
There is No treatment for congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).
Rubella can be prevented by immunization!
Rubella vaccine is part of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine series, is administered to babies at 12-15 months of age (not earlier) and a second dose when the child is 4-6 years old. To help protect unborn babies from CRS, women must be immunised to rubella 1 month prior to pregnancy.
Sense India through its advocacy initiatives created mass awareness amongst its stakeholders in which the need for inclusion of rubella vaccination in UIP (universal immunization programme)* was raised in several meetings with CSOs and government officials all over India. As a result, provision for Rubella vaccination was made in the National programme. Now Rubella vaccine will be made available through government’s Universal Immunization programme. By introducing the rubella vaccine as mandatory the government has shown a real commitment to eradicating the disease.
Vaccination is the only way to tackle viruses like rubella. This programme marks a huge step forward in tackling the disease but we need to go further. Until the rubella vaccine is integrated into all state level immunisation campaigns the dangers of rubella will remain high for pregnant women and their unborn children.
*Universal Immunization Programme is the largest Public vaccination Programme in India and the statistics exhibit that its coverage is more than 62% for the whole of India.
http //www measlesrubellainitiative org