In a significant win against childhood killer diseases, two countries of World Health Organisation South-East Asia Region, DPR Korea and Timor-Leste, were yesterday verified for eliminating measles, and six countries, including Nepal, certified for controlling rubella and congenital rubella syndrome, two years ahead of the target year 2020.
“These achievements demonstrate the commitment and resolve of countries in the region towards health of women and children, and for universal health coverage,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director WHO South-East Asia in a press release issued from her New Delhi-based office.
Last year, Bhutan and Maldives became the first two countries in the Region to eliminate measles. With yesterday’s announcements, four of the 11 member countries of WHO South-East Asia have now eliminated measles.
Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste are the first six countries in the WHO South-East Asia Region to control rubella and congenital rubella syndrome. Bhutan, Maldives and Timor-Leste, have become the first three countries in the region to achieve both elimination of measles and control of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome.
The Regional Verification Commission, an independent body of experts, met in Delhi from July 31 to August 2. Based on an in-depth review of the data and reports provided by national verification committees, the commission verified that both DPR Korea and Timor-Leste have interrupted transmission of indigenous measles for more than three years.
In 2014, WHO South-East Asia announced elimination of measles and control of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome by 2020 as a flagship programme. Since then, all countries in the region have been strengthening efforts to eliminate measles, a major childhood killer disease, and control rubella and congenital rubella syndrome, which causes serious and irreversible birth defects.
All countries in South-East Asia Region have introduced two doses of measles containing vaccines in their immunisation schedule.
The commission acknowledged that tremendous progress has been made by all member countries in the region over the past four years.
Commending the progress, Dr Khetrapal Singh said across the region, immunisation managers and health workers were now better trained while cold-chain structures were more reliable.
“We are moving towards a brighter and healthier future for all – one that is free of vaccine preventable diseases and the unnecessary death and suffering they cause. However, we need to further intensify our efforts. Measles moves fast, we need to move faster to protect our children against its severe consequences,” she said.
Source: Himalayan Times