European Region loses ground in effort to eliminate measles

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European Region loses ground in effort to eliminate measles
Press release, WHO Europe
Copenhagen 29 August 2019
Following several years of steady progress toward elimination of measles in the WHO European Region, the number of countries having achieved or sustained elimination of the disease has declined. This was the conclusion of the European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC) based on an assessment of annual status updates for 2018 submitted by the 53 Member States of the Region.

 

The RVC determined that for the first time since the verification process began in the Region in 2012, 4 countries (Albania, Czechia, Greece and the United Kingdom) lost their measles elimination status.

“Re-establishment of measles transmission is concerning. If high immunization coverage is not achieved and sustained in every community, both children and adults will suffer unnecessarily and some will tragically die,” says Dr Günter Pfaff, Chair of the RVC.

The RVC was, on the other hand, pleased to conclude that Austria and Switzerland attained elimination status, having demonstrated the interruption of endemic transmission for at least 36 months.

For the Region as a whole, as of the end of 2018, 35 countries are considered to have achieved or sustained measles elimination (compared to 37 for 2017), 2 have interrupted the endemic transmission of measles (for 12–35 months), 12 remain endemic for measles and 4 that had previously eliminated the disease have re-established measles transmission.

The surge in cases that began in 2018 has continued into 2019, with approximately 90 000 cases reported for the first half of the year. This is already more than that recorded for the whole of 2018 (84,462)…