In a commentary in Indian Pediatrics, a journal of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, medical experts have slammed India's laggard attitude in the fight against measles.
The country has slipped behind African countries in the fight against measles, which is estimated to claim the lives of 160,000 children on an annual basis. Angola, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, Vietnam, Yemen and Pakistan are ahead of India in taking measures to tackle measles.
"This is certainly a shame," Panna Choudhury, a co-author and president of the academy, told The Telegraph. "India has the resources, the infrastructure and the measles vaccine is widely and easily available. Action against measles could significantly reduce mortality in children below five years of age."
Currently the first dose of vaccine given to children at about nine months of age is said to confer protection in just 85% of the cases. A second dose is expected to protect 99% of the children, but this is yet to be introduced publicly by the health ministry.
T. Jacob John, co-chair of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation said the second dose would be made available in 2010.