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ACOM115 Essay On Cause And Effects Of Measles Assessment Answer


1. Worldwide, in 2018, there were more than 140,000 deaths from measles, mostly among children under the age of five years (WHO, 2019). This is despite measles being a preventable disease. Discuss the cause and effects of measles.



Measles is one of the contagious diseases which spread due to close contact with an infected person or by the nasal droplets which spread by coughing and sneezing. Measles is a common viral disease accompanied by fever and maculopapular rash. The further complications of measles (encephalitis, severe diarrhoea and dehydration, pneumonia, and permanent disability) may lead to death. The unvaccinated people, especially children, are at risk for infection from this deadly virus. The measles virus can also infect unvaccinated pregnant women and non-immune individuals. 

Measles is said to be present everywhere, but it is found very common in developing nations in Asia and Africa. It is assumed that in developing countries, about one child out of every hundred children infected with measles lost his life due to disease or its complications (CDC: Global Measles Outbreaks, 2020). The essential method to prevent the spread the measles is the vaccination of children. Though data suggest that vaccination has dropped the measles associated worldwide deaths (between the duration of 2000 to 2018) by 73%, still there were 140,000 deaths worldwide and most of the children under the age of 5  (WHO, 2020).

Measles is the highly contagious, severe disease which is caused by a virus of the poxvirus family. The virus is spread through the air by direct contact and infects the respiratory tract, and later it is distributed throughout the body. Measles is the acute childhood disease in nonvaccinated children which is characterized by fever, rash and conjunctivitis. The disease is considered benign, but it may be dangerous leading to pneumonia and encephalitis (Premaratna et al., 2017; Enders, 1996). The common symptoms in children are cough, watery eyes, runny nose, and development of white spots of small size on the inner lining of the cheeks(WHO, 2020). There is no specific antiviral treatment regimen for measles virus. However, antibiotics, supportive care with good nutrition, intake of sufficient fluids helps in the treatment. Most measles associated deaths are caused by serious complications. These complications are developed generally in children below the age of 5, or adults above 30 years. The disease can also have severe complications such as blindness, encephalitis, ear infections, and respiratory infections like pneumonia, severe diarrhoea and related dehydration. 

Before the development of measles vaccine and the absence of a widespread vaccination program, the major epidemics of measles usually happened about every 2-3 years, and it caused a loss of approximate 2.6 million deaths every year. After the vaccination, the number of deaths was significantly decreased by 73% between 200-2018. The estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that although the cost-effective and affordable vaccine is available, in 2018, approximately 140,000 children mostly under the age of 5 lost their life due to measles. In 2018, Liberia, Somalia, Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ukraine were badly affected by the disease.

Not only the poor and developing countries reported the cases of measles but also the developed and wealthy nations like United States, United Kingdom and Greece etc. have also reported the cases of measles (Turner, 2019; WHO, 2020). This data depicts the collective failure to prevent the most vulnerable children. The primary reason for a large number of deaths is the lack of vaccination throughout the world. Measles outbreaks may be devastating in countries facing some conflicts or natural disaster. Such a situation causes damage to health infrastructure, thus affecting the routine immunization. Along with it, poor nations have residential camps which are overcrowded, thus increasing the risk of infection (WHO, 2020).

It reminds that every child, all over the world needs and deserves this vaccine (World Health Organization: News Room, 2020). Though the safe and effective vaccine is available since the 1960s and two-dose schedules is widely deployed throughout the world, but tragically these deaths were unavoidable as a large number of children in the developing countries were not administered with the single dose of measles vaccine (Turner, 2019). Including this, malnutrition and vitamin A deficiency has also worsened the situation in these nations (Roberts, 2020). 

Data suggests that for about a decade, the global vaccination rates are stagnant. The estimates of WHO and UNICEF mentioned that at the global level in 2018 about 86% of children got the first dose of the vaccine via the national routine vaccination program, and about 69% of children got the second dose. In 2018 about 19.2 million infants missed one dose of vaccine through the immunization program, and about 6.1 million out of them were present in Pakistan, Nigeria and India. Though the vaccination of children has improved from 72% in 2000 to 86% in 2018, worldwide coverage by vaccination of measles was inadequate to control the outburst of the disease. WHO suggests that 95% measles vaccination program (comprising two vaccine doses) is required to provide herd immunity and protect populations from the measles in each country and community (World Health Organization: News Room, 2020). 

Interestingly in the country like the United States of America, a substantial proportion of people were found who were not vaccinated. The non vaccinated people also included infants and individuals who knowingly missed their scheduled vaccine decided (Turner, 2019; Roberts, 2020). In many parts, parents have misinformation or mistrust, myths about vaccines and complacency henceforth they do not get their kids vaccinated (UNICEF: Press release measles, 2020; Roberts, 2020). The efficiency of vaccine is also one reason for the outbreak. In 2018 about 15% of vaccinated children, passive immunity was not developed from the first dose of vaccine, and in the second dose, the number of children was also reduced (World Health Organization: Measles, 2020).

It is misfortunate that around the world, the number of case and deaths from this disease is increasing substantially. This is more pathetic when the vaccine for measles is available for years.  Henceforth, it is of utmost importance that the countries and medical fraternity should make continuous effort and investment in immunization programmes. Globally, the disease should be surveyed by communities and organizations like WHO. This would assist in making sure that disease is vastly identified and controlled before the lives are lost (Catharine et al., 2019).

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