India has been bestowed with the prestigious Measles and Rubella Champion Award in recognition of the country’s tireless efforts to combat these infectious diseases, the health ministry said on Friday. The award was given by the Measles and Rubella Partnership at the American Red Cross Headquarters in Washington DC, US on March 6.

Ambassador Sripriya Ranganathan, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Washington DC, received the award on behalf of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The Measles and Rubella Partnership comprises a multi-agency planning committee, including the American Red Cross, BMGF, GAVI, US CDC, UNF, UNICEF and WHO, all dedicated to reducing global measles deaths and preventing rubella illness, the health ministry said in a statement.

“This accolade celebrates India’s unwavering commitment to public health and its outstanding leadership in curbing the spread of these infectious diseases among children,” the ministry said.

It further recognises India for providing regional leadership to the measles and rubella elimination programme by using “measles as a tracer” to strengthen routine immunisation under the country’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP).

“Despite facing numerous challenges, India has demonstrated remarkable progress in reducing measles and rubella cases and preventing outbreaks through a series of comprehensive interventions,” the statement said.

The Government of India’s proactive MR vaccination campaign in high-risk areas and innovative strategies to reach underserved populations, robust surveillance systems and effective public-awareness initiatives have played a key role in safeguarding the health and well-being of its population.

The award is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the country’s frontline health workers, healthcare professionals, policymakers and communities across the nation.

These efforts have resulted in 50 districts consistently not witnessing any measles case while 226 districts have not reported rubella cases in the last 12 months, the statement said.

Measles and rubella are vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) and the MR vaccine is part of the UIP since 2017. The Indian government is working towards eliminating measles and rubella from the country, the statement said.

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