By Yunus S Saliu
The Ministry of Health, on Tuesday kicked-start a weeklong campaign on measles-rubella, the outreach campaign is currently ongoing across the length and breadth of the country.
In a comprehensive presentation by Aja Kandeh, Communication Officer for Expanded Program on Immunization said Rubella also called German measles is caused by rubella virus “and the disease is so similar to measles” and humans are the only reservoir.
Transmission of rubella, she said, it is in two ways, which include direct contact that is person-to-person airborne and mother to child through the trans-placenta and the “incubation period ranges from 12 to 23 days.”
She dilated on the signs and symptoms saying Rubella infection in a woman in the first 8 to 10 weeks of pregnancy results in death of or damage to the fetus in up to 90% of cases.
Madam Kandeh noted further that Rubella is usually non-life threatening but infection can be most severe in early pregnancy and trans-placental infection of the fetus may lead to massive deformities which may result in miscarriage of the birth of an infant with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).
Further introducing the measles-rubella, she explained that measles is an acute viral illness caused by a virus. It is characterized by fever and malaise, cough coryza, and conjunctivitis, followed by a maculopapular rash.
The rash, she noted, usually appears 14 days after exposure and spreads from head to trunk to lower extremities, and “measles can result in complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis and death and rubella, also called german measles is similar to measles.”
Among other important things, she said the importance of vaccination which she said is meant to respond to the current measles outbreak in the country where they registered confirmed laboratory cases across the country and most of whom are under-fives. And “also vaccination is meant to strengthen routine immunization services in the Gambia.”
“MR vaccine is available in the routine immunization services and there are two dose given at 9 months and at 18 months,” she added.
However, she reiterated that the Ministry of Health through its Expanded Programme on Immunization and National Nutrition Agency with support from partners (by UNICEF, WHO and GAVI) is all conducting a nationwide Measles and Rubella immunization campaign. This campaign will be integrated with other child survival services like Vitamin A supplementation, deworming, and routine immunization services.
During this outreach or ‘bantaba’ campaign, she said the following services will be provided to children – Measles and Rubella vaccine for 9 to 59 months old children, Vitamin A supplementation for 6 to 59 months old children, De-worming tablets for 12 to 59 months old children and the team will visit places like community centers, schools, mosques, churches, ferry crossing points, markets, POEs and Strategic locations where children can be accessible for vaccination.
Mr Momodou Njai, Director of Health Promotion and Education, Mbye Njie among others gave speeches during this organized press briefing of the Measles-Rubella.