Step up efforts to eliminate measles: WHO

Clinical, Measles, The World Health Organization

Amidst increasing cases and outbreaks of measles globally, WHO has called upon countries in its South-East Asia Region to further accelerate efforts to ensure that everyone, everywhere receives the lifesaving benefits of immunisation.

“Governments, communities and health workers must focus on optimizsng the benefits of immunisation at all ages to prevent life threatening and debilitating diseases. Vaccines work and save lives, we must ensure that everyone, everywhere is benefitted,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia, during the ongoing World Immunization Week.

Preliminary measles surveillance data released recently indicates almost 300 per cent increase in measles cases globally in the first three months of this year as compared to the same period in 2018.  In WHO South-East Asia Region, the increase in measles cases in the same period is estimated to be around 40%.

“These are fresh challenges for countries and communities. We must learn from our successes in polio eradication and maternal & neonatal tetanus elimination from the Region. We need to combat these diseases on a war footing to prevent illness and save precious lives,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

Measles elimination and rubella control has been a flagship priority programme in the WHO South-East Asia Region since 2014. While rubella causes irreversible birth defects, measles is a killer disease. It is one of the most infectious virus known to mankind and can lead to diarrhoea, pneumonia, malnutrition in children and young adults and can even lead to deaths in all age groups.