What the measles outbreak in India reveals

The Indian Express | 2 days ago | 25-11-2022 | 11:45 am

What the measles outbreak in India reveals

A measles outbreak in Mumbai has raised concerns amongst the country’s public health authorities. The city has reported more than 200 cases in the past two months and at least 13 children have lost their lives. This is a big jump from the last few years — 10 cases and one death in 2021; 29 cases and no death in 2020; and 37 cases and three deaths in 2019. Other areas in Maharashtra, including Nashik and Yavatmal, have also been affected. By all accounts, the outbreak seems to have been precipitated by a backslide in the universal immunisation programme during the pandemic. According to the state government data, only 41 per cent of the eligible children have been inoculated against measles in Mumbai. Overworked public health professionals, including ASHA workers, have also had to combat vaccine hesitancy. Parents, reportedly, are showing a disinclination to continue the inoculation regime for their children after they developed fever on being administered the first jab. Such after-effects are par for the course. In the past, health departments in most parts of the country would anticipate the worries of parents and find ways to reassure them. The Mumbai outbreak indicates that the pandemic may have disrupted such efforts.In recent years, the Centre’s Mission Indradhanush project has improved vaccine coverage and reduced delays between shots. But WHO and UNICEF studies have shown that immunisation programmes — especially those focusing on DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) and measles — have taken a hit in low and mid-income countries, including India, in the past two years. Early in the pandemic, the National Health Mission’s information system reported that at least 100,000 children missed their shots because of the restrictions on movement. Anecdotal reports do indicate that India’s universal inoculation programme picked up during the later part of the pandemic. But measles is a highly contagious disease. Experts had cautioned that even a 5 per cent fall in the vaccination rate can disrupt herd immunity and precipitate an outbreak. The surge of the disease in Mumbai indicates that their fears are coming true.In the past week, a rise in measles cases has also been reported from Ranchi, Ahmedabad and Malappuram. The Centre has reportedly sent teams to help state health authorities frame control and containment measures. It has also rightly asked states to consider administering an extra dose of vaccines to children, aged five to nine, in vulnerable areas. But the time has also come to look beyond emergency measures and provide the country’s public health services its long-overdue boost. The gains of the Universal Immunisation Programme should not be overturned by health emergencies.

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New, signal-free corridor will ease Mumbai-Thane traffic woes
Times of India | 4 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 06:01 am
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THANE: The MMRDA has given its approval to ease congestion at one of the 'world's most chaotic' traffic junctions at Teen Haath Naka by constructing a fresh pair of U-shaped flyovers in addition to the existing bridge that runs above the intersection, officials informed, adding that the project will also ensure the arterial junction could get rid of signals presently required for crossing the intersection. The proposal for the flyovers - with three lanes each and collectively costing approximately Rs 289 crore - was presented before the MMRDA committee last month and finally got administrative approval. Teen Haath Naka is a vital junction on the Mumbai (LBS route)-Thane-Pune-Nashik route where nearly seven roads, including three arterial lanes, converges. A 2014 study commissioned by the Thane corporation had pegged the junction as one of the world's most chaotic ones. Even though the MSRDC had built a flyover over the junction two decades back, it doesn't cater to the rising movement of traffic underneath and between the seven lanes that connect Mumbai-Thane via LBS road with the Eastern Express Highway. According to the plans, a 700m-long, U-shaped flyover will take off from the Nashik lane of the EEH after the Teen Haath Naka junction ends and will run parallel to the existing bridge and then take a turn to the right and land few metres ahead of the junction on the Mumbai-bound carriageway. All vehicles coming from Mumbai and entering Thane city or proceeding towards LBS road or old Pune highway will take this arm without waiting at the signal for crossing over. Similarly, traffic from Nashik, Pune and Thane city headed towards Mumbai using LBS road will ascend the second U-shaped flyover after crossing the junction on the Mumbai-bound lane of the highway. The flyover measuring 900m in length will run parallel to the highway and take a U-turn and land in the opposite direction ahead of the Teen Haath Naka. Officials say once the project is completed, the waiting time at signal for Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, and Pune-bound vehicles will be reduced substantially. The plan entails removing the signals that increase waiting time and often stretches beyond 15-20 minutes. The inclusion of the two U-shaped flyovers at the spot will prove beneficial in smooth management of traffic, especially once the metro station comes up on the stretch. The project may affect a small stretch of green cover between the service road and the highway.

New, signal-free corridor will ease Mumbai-Thane traffic woes