The measles outbreak in Mumbai (the Govandi area) began several months ago in January this year. This has been confirmed by a Central government team that visited the city to take stock of reported cases; it will submit its report to the Union Health Ministry.
Health officials said there are several reasons behind the recent surge. A senior official said the investigation done by the Central team has revealed a huge immunisation gap as only 40% of children took only one dose of measles, while 60% were unvaccinated. “Moreover, the report also revealed a huge shortage of staff at Rajawadi Hospital, which needs to be addressed on a priority basis,” the official said.
On Saturday, the Central team visited Rajawadi Hospital and Rafi Nagar to meet families of patients. It also reviewed the ongoing vaccination drives. After four days of monitoring the situation, the team met with the Principal Secretary of Health on Monday and later met the Additional Municipal Commissioner and senior health officials of BMC’s F-South ward.
Measle cases in Mumbai thus far
The health department official said that the team visited 11 wards in the city where there has been an outbreak and asked for heightened surveillance in Malwani, Kurla, Dharavi and Bandra.The official added, “As per the Central team, there is a need to increase surveillance and awareness through various mode of communication. Moreover,it has been suggested that survey units be started in four metropolitan cities, including Mumbai.”
Meanwhile, the civic body has set up three wards for measles patients at Kasturba Hospital suchas ICU, observational and stable wards. Currently, there are four patients admitted to the ICUand one is on ventilator. There are 61 suspected cases in Govandi, of which four are onoxygen support.
Lack of awareness, hesitancy to vaccination in people
Health volunteers said migration, overcrowding and lack of awareness are our greatest adversaries. “I covered the entire area a few days ago but found two new families who are unaware of the current situation,” said a volunteer.
Issues of migration, illiteracy, hesitancy to get children vaccinated, and hostile behaviour faced by health volunteers were some of the points discussed when the Central team visited the health post on Saturday. “We are also planning to rope in maulanas in these areas and seek help to create awareness about vaccination,” said an officer.