Using Measles Activities to Strengthen Immunization and Surveillance (UMASIS)

Dates: 2011-2012

Countries: All places not listed, India, Laos

Client(s): World Health Organization (WHO)

Services: Assessment, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research

Technical Expertise: Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, Immunization, Infectious Diseases

Measles vaccination has long been the cornerstone of immunization programs - an effective and inexpensive vaccine offering lifelong protection against one of the most contagious childhood illnesses, and operationally the last of the vaccination requirements needed to produce a "fully immunized child" under one year of age.

As a testament to its importance, MDG4 uses measles immunization coverage uniquely as an indicator of both advances towards better child health and performance of health systems. Great progress has been achieved over the past several years in reducing mortality and morbidity due to measles. In 2010, the World Health Assembly affirmed its commitment to further reduce measles mortality by endorsing three targets for 2015:

  • Reduce measles deaths by 95% compared with 2000 levels;
  • Exceed 90% coverage with the first dose of measles-containing vaccine nationally and exceed 80% coverage in every district; and
  • Reduce annual measles incidence to less than five cases per million and maintain that level.

These targets will only be reached and sustained if comprehensive measles prevention and control strategies are supported by strong immunization and surveillance systems.

Clearly, there is a close and reciprocal relationship between measles prevention and control activities and the broader strengthening of immunization systems. However, to make better use of this dynamic, there is a need to compile and articulate the ways that measles activities can be managed, organized and communicated to have a maximum strengthening effect on immunization systems.

Toward this end, John Snow, Inc. (JSI) is working with WHO to identify practical ways for countries to use activities focused on controlling or eliminating measles to strengthen immunization and surveillance systems, for the mutual advantage of both efforts. The project, Using Measles Activities to Strengthen Immunization and Surveillance (UMASIS), is:
  • exploring how countries have approached the interface between routine immunization services and accelerated disease control;
  • developing guidelines on how measles-specific activities could be used to strengthen immunization and surveillance systems as well as suggestions for overcoming obstacles to doing so;
  • proposing indicators to monitor and help manage such efforts; and
  • developing advocacy materials to promote measles control as a fundamental part of immunization systems strengthening, rather than as an independent activity.