Maldives, Sri Lanka eliminate measles & rubella ahead of 2023 target

Maldives and Sri Lanka have become the first two countries in the South-East Asia region to eliminate both measles and rubella ahead of the 2023 target. The announcement was made by WHO South-East Asia’s Regional Director, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh after the fifth meeting of the regional verification commission for measles and rubella elimination, held virtually.

Dr. Singh said protecting all children against these killer and debilitating diseases is an important step in endeavour to achieve healthier population and health for all. The Regional Director commended Member countries’ efforts to deliver life-saving vaccines to children even while battling the COVID pandemic.

A country is verified as having eliminated measles and rubella when there is no evidence of endemic transmission for over three years by a well-performing surveillance system.

Maldives reported its last endemic case of measles in 2009 and of rubella in October 2015, while Sri Lanka reported last endemic case of measles in May 2016 and of rubella in March 2017.

Member countries of WHO South-East Asia region had set 2023 as the target for elimination of measles and rubella. Bhutan, DPR Korea and Timor-Leste are other countries in the region who have eliminated measles.