Sri Lanka and the Maldives have become the first two countries in the World Health Organisation's (WHO) South-East Asia region to eliminate measles and rubella, ahead of the 2023 target.
Both countries were verified for having eliminating measles and rubella by the WHO today.
Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of the WHO South-East Asia Region, issuing a statement said, "Protecting all children against these killer and debilitating diseases is an important step in our endeavour to achieve healthier population and health for all.
The announcement was made after the fifth meeting of the South-East Asia Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination, held virtually.
A country is verified as having eliminated measles and rubella when there is no evidence of endemic transmission of the measles and rubella viruses for over three years in the presence of a well-performing surveillance system.
Sri Lanka reported its last endemic case of measles in May 2016 and the last rubella case was in March 2017.
Member countries of WHO South-East Asia Region had in September last year set 2023 as the target for eliminating measles and rubella, revising the goal of the flagship programme that since 2014 had focused on measles elimination and rubella control.
Bhutan, DPR Korea and Timor-Leste are other countries in the Region who have eliminated measles.
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