The urban primary healthcare centre 'Dhamana Veshi' in capital city Male', on Monday, began a campaign to administer the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine to unvaccinated minors free of charge.
Guardians of unvaccinated children are required to bring a valid national identity (ID) card of the child, along with the child's immunization records when visiting the centre for vaccination. However, the immunization records are not mandatory to receive the vaccine.
Although the Maldives was declared measles free by the World Health Organization (WHO) in April 2017, the disease resurfaced in the context of an increase in anti-vaccine rhetoric throughout the country. Maldives and Bhutan became the first two countries in South Asia to eradicate the disease before 2020.
According to the Ministry of Health, a 30-year old and a 3-year old were confirmed to have contracted the disease.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen stated that the ministry was in discussion with hospitals and health care facilities to manage the situation. He added that the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Red Crescent were also involved in the efforts.
The measures, specifically targeted at unvaccinated individuals and those who did not receive the second dose of the vaccine, include awareness programmes which will also cater to expatriates residing in the country.
Measles is highly contagious and can spread through coughing and sneezing. While the most well-known symptom of the disease is a 'blotchy rash', other indicators include high fever, runny nose, cough, eye discharge and white spots inside the mouth. If left untreated, measles can be fatal.
The health ministry advised individuals who experience symptoms to seek immediate medical assistance in their island of residence due to the highly contagious nature of the disease.
The ministry has established a hotline, 7377004, for enquiries regarding the disease.