Maldives to kick-start 'Measles-free' campaign on Sun

Government is set to kick-off the initiative for the Maldives to become a country to be free of measles on Sunday.

Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the measles vaccination program would be launched on Sunday and would continue until March 11 throughout the archipelago.

The program would target people between the ages of 15 to 25 while children between eight and 14 years who have not received two dozes would be vaccinated, according to HPA.

"We will collaborate with the schools to administer the vaccine. The health centres in the Atolls would administer the vaccines in the islands," HPA official Ibrahim Nishan Ahmed said.

The last recorded case of measles in the Maldives was in 2010. Before mass vaccination was initiated in 1980, measles caused nearly 2.6 million annual deaths worldwide. Measles have not been reported as an endemic in the Maldives since 2005.

According to Nishan, HPA would set up 11 vaccination points across the capital Male.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases and affects primarily children. It is transmitted by airborne droplets or via direct contact with secretions from the nose, mouth, and throat of infected individuals.

Symptoms include high fever, generalized rash all over the body, stuffy nose, and reddened eyes. It can cause serious complications including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infections and pneumonia, particularly in children with nutritional problems and in immunocompromised patients.