Study shows success of measles vaccine campaigns in India

March 05, 2019

A mass measles vaccination campaign saved tens of thousands of children's lives in India between 2010 and 2013, according to a report published today in eLife.

The findings suggest that eliminating deaths from measles in India could be possible, although it will require continued diligence to ensure high immunization rates among Indian children and direct mortality monitoring. The results may also help to encourage greater uptake of vaccinations in children across the world.

There have been substantial decreases in the number of deaths from measles over the last 30 years. However, the infection remains a significant cause of mortality in children under five years old globally, with much of the burden of mortality and transmission residing in Africa and Asia.

India was one of the last countries to adopt two doses of the measles vaccine as part of national immunization programs. In 2010, its government implemented second-dose measles vaccines alongside mass immunization campaigns in districts (small administrative areas, each comprising about two million people) with low child vaccination rates.

"We know that measles deaths have declined in India, but what we did not know prior to this study is if the national measles campaign reduced child mortality rates," explains first author Benjamin Wong, Epidemiologist at St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto in Canada. "Until now, no studies had directly answered this question due to gaps in the available data."

Wong and his team applied a novel statistical method to data from the Million Death Study (MDS) - a nationally representative sample of all deaths in India, which includes detailed interviews with families about child deaths. They examined 27,000 child deaths from 1.3 million households surveyed from 2005 to 2013. During this period, the MDS captured deaths for 13,490 girls and 13,007 boys aged between one and 59 months old.

The current analysis suggests that the measles vaccine campaigns saved 41,000 to 56,000 children in India during 2010 to 2013, or 39%-57% of the expected number of deaths nationally. Mortality in children aged between one and 59 months fell more in the campaign states following launch (27%) than in the non-campaign states (11%). Measles mortality risk was notably lower for children living in the campaign districts and those born between 2010-2013.

The team also found that the campaign was particularly successful for girls, as there was a steeper decline in the mortality rates of girls than boys in the vaccination campaign states during the three-year period. But while this highlights a narrower gap between girls and boys, mortality rates remain higher for girls. This is possibly due to lower vaccination coverage, a social preference for boys and/or lower levels of breastfeeding and healthcare access.

"Together, our results demonstrate the significant success of the measles vaccination campaigns in saving children's lives in India," concludes senior author Prabhat Jha, University of Toronto Chair in Global Health and Epidemiology, and Executive Director of the Centre for Global Health Research at St. Michael's Hospital. "We've shown that nationwide mortality studies that are representative of the population are an inexpensive and practical way to directly investigate the impact of interventions for other diseases in India and elsewhere."
-end-
References

The paper 'The impact of measles immunization campaigns in India using a nationally representative sample of 27,000 child deaths' can be freely accessed online at https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.43290.

This is the first in a series of papers on avoidable mortality in India to be published in eLife. Contents, including text, figures and data, are free to reuse under a CC BY 4.0 license.

For more information about the Centre for Global Health Research, visit http://www.cghr.org/measles.

Media contacts

Emily Packer, Senior Press Officer
eLife
e.packer@elifesciences.org
01223 855373

Michael Oliveira, Media Relations Advisor
St. Michael's
OliveiraM@smh.ca
416-864-5047

About eLife

eLife aims to help scientists accelerate discovery by operating a platform for research communication that encourages and recognises the most responsible behaviours in science. We publish important research in all areas of the life and biomedical sciences, including Epidemiology and Global Health, which is selected and evaluated by working scientists and made freely available online without delay. eLife also invests in innovation through open-source tool development to accelerate research communication and discovery. Our work is guided by the communities we serve. eLife is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, the Wellcome Trust and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. Learn more at https://elifesciences.org/about.

eLife

Related Mortality Articles from Brightsurf:

Being in treatment with statins reduces COVID-19 mortality by 22% to 25%
A research by the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) and Pere Virgili Institut (IISPV) led by LluĂ­s Masana has found that people who are being treated with statins have a 22% to 25% lower risk of dying from COVID-19.

Mortality rate higher for US rural residents
A recent study by Syracuse University sociology professor Shannon Monnat shows that mortality rates are higher for U.S. working-age residents who live in rural areas instead of metro areas, and the gap is getting wider.

COVID-19, excess all-cause mortality in US, 18 comparison countries
COVID-19 deaths and excess all-cause mortality in the U.S. are compared with 18 countries with diverse COVID-19 responses in this study.

New analysis shows hydroxychloroquine does not lower mortality in COVID-19 patients, and is associated with increased mortality when combined with the antibiotic azithromycin
A new meta-analysis of published studies into the drug hydroxychloroquine shows that it does not lower mortality in COVID-19 patients, and using it combined with the antibiotic azithromycin is associated with a 27% increased mortality.

Hydroxychloroquine reduces in-hospital COVID-19 mortality
An Italian observational study contributes to the ongoing debate regarding the use of hydroxychloroquine in the current pandemic.

What's the best way to estimate and track COVID-19 mortality?
When used correctly, the symptomatic case fatality ratio (sCFR) and the infection fatality ratio (IFR) are better measures by which to monitor COVID-19 epidemics than the commonly reported case fatality ratio (CFR), according to a new study published this week in PLOS Medicine by Anthony Hauser of the University of Bern, Switzerland, and colleagues.

COVID-19: Bacteriophage could decrease mortality
Bacteriophage can reduce bacterial growth in the lungs, limiting fluid build-up.

COPD and smoking associated with higher COVID-19 mortality
Current smokers and people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have an increased risk of severe complications and higher mortality with COVID-19 infection, according to a new study published May 11, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Jaber Alqahtani of University College London, UK, and colleagues.

Highest mortality risks for poor and unemployed
Large dataset shows that income, work status and education have a clear influence on mortality in Germany.

Addressing causes of mortality in Zambia
Despite the fact that people in sub-Saharan Africa are now living longer than they did two decades ago, their average life expectancy remains below that of the rest of the world population.

Read More: Mortality News and Mortality Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.