In a first-of-its-kind in Punjab, the state health department will soon start a measles surveillance programme in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Polio Survey Project (NPSP) from September this year to eradicate the disease.
This programme will aim to protect the lives of infants and children up to the age of 10 years in the state.
Last week, the state health department organised two-day training workshop and sensitise the district immunisation officers in Chandigarh.
Now, the department is planning to start such workshops at district headquarters for doctors, health workers, practitioners and nursing students.
Moreover, the WHO and NPSP will establish a laboratory for measles surveillance in collaboration with the state government at Chandigarh where samples collected from across Punjab will be tested.
Under the programme, teams will collect blood, throat slabs and urine samples of children at localities where more than five kids will be found suffering from fever and red rashes on their faces and other parts of the body.
The health department will also ascertain such locations from where measles cases will be reported and subsequently corrective measures will be taken to eradicate the menace.
Further, health officials will be asked to locate areas or clusters and confirmed cases of measles.
Recently, the union ministry of health and family welfare had written to all states to identify measles virus strains and proposed to expand scope of laboratory assistance in addition to identifying the strain and genetic characteristics of measles virus for which throat swab and urine samples will be collected.
State immunisation officer Dr GB Singh said the programme was like pulse polio campaign and aims at eradicating the disease.
He said measles vaccination was being administered at the age of nine months-1 year to children to secure immunity against measles. He said measles was a viral disease and a leading cause of death among children after an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes.
He said if children were not given measles vaccination, the disease can be deadly their immunity gets weakened which further causes life-threatening diarrhoea and other illnesses.
Singh said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had been offering technical support to the surveillance programme which would be taken to the block level for diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
The health authorities would also prepare a chart of identified grey areas and health workers would be trained to take corrective measures to eradicate the disease.
An estimated 50,000-1, 00,000 children die of measles annually, making it one of the leading causes of child mortality.