Nepal among six nations controlling rubella; DPR Korea and Timor-Leste eliminate measles 

Nepal among six nations controlling rubella; DPR Korea and Timor-Leste eliminate measles 

Kathmandu: The Regional Verification Commission, an independent body of experts that met in New Delhi from 31 July to 2 August verified two South-East Asian Nations – Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Timor-Leste, for eliminating measles. The Commission verified that both DPR Korea and Timor-Leste have interrupted transmission of indigenous measles for more than three years.

The Commission has also certified six countries including Nepal for controlling rubella and congenital rubella syndrome, two years ahead of the target year 2020. In 2014, WHO South-East Asia announced the elimination of measles and control of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome by 2020 as a flagship programme. The countries were verified in a significant win against childhood killer diseases. Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste are the first six countries in the WHO South-East Asia Region to control rubella and congenital rubella syndrome.

“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. Last year Bhutan and Maldives became the first two countries in the Region to eliminate measles. With today’s announcements, four of the 11 member countries of WHO South-East Asia have now eliminated measles.

Meanwhile, the Commission acknowledged that tremendous progress has been made by all Member countries in the Region over the past four years. A huge momentum has been created in the Region and activities have been accelerated to move towards the achievement of these goals, it observed. “Health workers are now better trained while cold-chain structures are more reliable. Injection safety has been enhanced and vaccine management systems are more effective. We have laboratory networks with greater capacity and surveillance systems that are better equipped to meet the challenges we face”, Dr Khetrapal Singh commended the progress. However, we need to further intensify our efforts, Dr Khetrapal Singh said, adding, “measles moves fast, we need to move faster to protect our children against its severe consequences”.

It is noticeable that elimination of measles is achieved when the country interrupts transmission of indigenous virus for over three years whereas Rubella control is achieved when a country reduces the number of rubella cases by 95% as compared to the number of rubella cases in 2008.