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Vaccination drive

Measles belongs to a class of communicable diseases that can attain epidemic proportions if left to its own. The virus is highly communicable and can affect children and youth. There have been several cases of death reported from measles in different parts of the world. It is therefore little wonder that the Sultanate’s ever-alert health authorities are taking any possibility of measles outbreak seriously. As vaccination works with this viral disease it is important to get the jabs at the right time. Though given to infants, along with those for mumps and rubella, measles vaccine needs booster doses between 25 and 35 years of age. That is why the Sultanate has launched a major campaign to achieve full measles vaccination coverage. The Ministry of Health deserves all credit for remaining alert to threats to public health. The demographic dynamics of the Sultanate being such, there is always a possibility of citizens and expats coming in contact with virus carriers who had not had proper vaccination. The Sultanate being such a popular destination for economic migration and leisure travel, there are people from different parts of the world arriving. The other parts of the world will be following different health standards and some of such groups being carriers of communicable diseases cannot be ruled out. The infectious phase of the virus begins days before the symptoms actually show up in a patient which enhances the chances of infection. Therefore it is appropriate that the nation’s public health authorities have launched the campaign to cover the entire population. The campaign’s second phase will conclude on September 16. The first phase in June covered the Dhofar and Al Wusta governorates. It was particularly gracious on the part of Minister of Health HE Dr Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Sa’eedi and Minister of State and Governor of Muscat HE Sayyid Saud Bin Hilal Al Busaidi to be present when the second phase of the drive formally began at North Al Khuwair Health Centre in Muscat the other day.

The presence of such dignitaries definitely sends an important message among the citizens and other residents. The gravity with which the state is approaching public health issues will ensure that people become more aware of the problems and react in time to such threats. As Al Sa’eedi said the nation had 114 measles cases last year and 44 this year up to April pointing to the gravity of the situation. The government has rightly roped in private healthcare institutions also to further the cause of the campaign. Several government institutions are also involved in the drive and people of the targeted age-group are being given vaccination in Diwan of the Royal Court and Sultan Qaboos University. While communicable diseases need immediate attention of the Ministry of Health, it has not eased its campaign to generate awareness about non-communicable diseases also. This is because morbidity of any form weighs on a nation and its economy. It also reduces the youth’s productivity and affects long-term growth. The government’s campaign to create awareness about healthy lifestyle has been continuing. Modern age being such, the high dependence on technology adversely affects many healthy aspects of lifestyles pursued by earlier generations.