On July 08, 2020, According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) South East Asian Region (SEAR) office, Maldives and Sri Lanka were verified to eliminate both measles and rubella, making them the first two countries in the WHO South-East Asia region to achieve beyond their 2023 target.
This was announced after the 5th meeting of the South-East Asia Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination, which comprises of 11 independent international experts in the fields of epidemiology, virology and public health, held virtually.
Maldives and Sri Lanka:
In Maldives measles had last reported in 2009 and rubella in October 2015, on the other hand, Sri Lanka had reported last cases of measles in May 2016 and rubella in March 2017.
500 million children were vaccinated since 2017:
In recent years all countries have started a dose of measles and rubella vaccine, in which the first dose coverage of measles vaccine is 88 % and the second dose coverage is around 76 %.
Since 2017, around 500 million children have been vaccinated against measles and rubella.
Target for 2023:
All the 11 member countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, North Korea, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand) of the South-East Asia region of WHO set year 2023 as a target to fight measles and rubella in September 2019.
Whereas since 2014, the focus was on eradicating measles and controlling rubella and work on it was started.
- It is to be noted that, a country is considered to have eliminated measles and rubella when there is no evidence of endemic transmission of the viruses for more than three years and there is a well- performing surveillance system.
- Bhutan, DPR Korea and Timor-Leste are other countries in the region who have eliminated measles.
It is a highly contagious viral disease and is particularly dangerous for children from the economically weaker background, as it attacks malnourished children and those with reduced immunity.
Symptoms: It can cause serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhoea, ear infection and pneumonia.
Rubella (also called German Measles):
It is a contagious, generally mild viral infection that occurs most often in children and young adults. Rubella infection in pregnant women may cause fetal death or congenital defects known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS), which causes irreversible birth defects.
About World Health Organisation’s (WHO):
Headquarters– Geneva, Switzerland
Director-General- Tedros Adhanom