Explained | Measles outbreak: How Sri Lanka became measles free country in 2019? Check here
The World Health Organisation, on July 9 2019, announced Sri Lanka was free from measles, eradicating the transmission of the indigenous virus causing the death of children in the island nation.
A statement released by WHO (on that day) applauded Sri Lanka for demonstrating its commitment, determination of its health force, and parents to protect children from the infection.
WHO revealed that an independent verification committee reviewed all the data in detail and concluded that Sri Lanka had stopped the indigenous measles virus transmission. The World Health Organisation further informed that the last measles positive reported in Sri Lanka was way back in May 2016.
“Sri Lanka’s achievement comes when global measles cases are increasing. The island nation’s success at a time when globally, measles infection cases are on the rise,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia, while congratulating the island nation.
WHO further observed that Sri Lanka ensured maximum coverage with two doses of measles and rubella vaccines being provided in the childhood immunisation program.
“The vaccination drive in the island has been consistently high – 95 per cent plus as the first and second doses of MR vaccine were vaccinated to children under the routine immunisation programme. In addition, the country has robust surveillance systems, and all vaccine-prevented diseases are a crucial part of the communicable disease surveillance system. Measles is a notifiable disease in Sri Lanka,” read the WHO report.
However, the regional director did notice that the risk of measles infection will remain with countries having significant movement on the island.
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The World Health Organisation also claimed that Sri Lanka became the fifth country in WHO South East Region, after Bhutan, Maldives, and Timor-Leste, to eliminate and control rubella.
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