GUWAHATI, April 27 - Assam has been able to do a commendable job vis-�-vis Measles Rubella (MR) campaign of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHF). A coverage evaluation by the Government of India has rated Assam�s performance as high � with the State being credited with achieving the highest increase in coverage with 31 per cent points compared to the earlier low percentage of 66.
This turnaround has been possible largely due to the painstaking efforts of grassroots health workers (ASHAs and ANMs), who braved the hostile terrain and weather conditions in remote, hilly and forested areas to ensure that every child was vaccinated. They also did an admirable job in motivating scores of uneducated and ignorant parents about the urgent need for vaccination.
The MR campaign, which concluded recently in the State, achieved a coverage of 98.04 per cent with the figure being of 90,28,321. The total enrolment estimation done by ASHA workers was 92,09,059.
The campaign mandated vaccination of all children between the ages of 9 months to 15. A shot of this vaccine prevents the two diseases, measles and rubella.
Assam also topped the special programme �Indradhanush�, which was aimed at ensuring foolproof coverage by the MR campaign.
�The MR campaign has been a great success. The biggest role in this success story was played by our teams of grassroots workers. They overcame every odd and took all difficulties in their stride as they ensured that no child is left without vaccination,� Mallika Medhi, Additional Secretary, Health, Government of Assam and Director, Health Services (Family Welfare), Assam, told The Assam Tribune.
She added that the difficult terrain in the form of hilly forests crisscrossed by frothing rivers and streams without roads and bridges in districts like Karbi Anglong was a big hurdle. Similar transportation bottlenecks hindered the campaign along large stretches of riverine areas in Dhubri district.
�The terrain in these districts was such that covering a 3-km distance took three-four hours,� she added.
According to Medhi, the actual coverage percentage would be almost 100 per cent, as many schools had inflated enrolment figures. �We believe we covered almost every child even in those remote areas,� she said.
She said that as part of the campaign, parent-teacher meetings were held in 4,770 health sub-centres and 58,851 schools across the State, resulting in 91,905 sessions.
The number of ANM and ASHA workers engaged was 10,854 and 31,955, respectively. �Our four-member vaccination teams performed 4,500 vaccinations per day. A lot of training preceded the ground work. We had 11,538 vaccinators, 2,000 supervisors, 76,270 field workers, 2,702 medical officers and 1.16 lakh teachers and principals trained for the purpose,� Medhi said.
The campaign saw the convergence of several departments such as education, social welfare and panchayat and rural development besides professional medical groups and representatives from UNICEF, UNDP and who were roped in for advocacy. The Deputy Commissioners of the districts also played a role.
During Mission Indradhanush (MI) rounds, the health workers were urged to focus particularly on children who had been left out. �This led to plan and work extensively for five days a week in these villages, even during monsoons, to prepare due lists, carry the vaccine carriers from the cold chain,� Medhi said.
The districts of Dhubri and Karbi Anglong saw the real jump in vaccination coverage. The final coverage figure for Dhubri and Karbi Anglong stood at 99.38 per cent and 97.9 per cent respectively.