Thirty-two countries in the European Region have interrupted transmission of endemic measles and/or rubella as of 2014, according to the conclusions of the European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC).
Azerbaijan is among those countries that have sustained interruption for a period of three years and are therefore considered to have eliminated measles and rubella. This progress and momentum toward elimination in the entire European Region will be the focus of European Immunization Week, taking place 24-30 April.
Interruption of transmission in more than half of Europe’s countries shows that regional elimination of measles and rubella is possible and we are on the right track to achieve it. Momentum must be maintained to sustain this achievement where it is still fragile, and to ensure the remaining endemic countries catch up quickly.
European Immunization Week is an ideal time to raise awareness of the importance for every person of being protected from measles and rubella.
Azerbaijan has organized a half-day conference for local health authorities including the heads of children’s polyclinics in collaboration with the WHO Country Office in Azerbaijan.
Boosting efforts to achieve the final goal
Eliminating measles and rubella is a core goal of the European Vaccine Action Plan 2015–2020 and an important part of global efforts to improve health and reduce inequalities (Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 10, respectively). The RVC and WHO are committed to the verification process and will continue to provide national public health authorities throughout the Region with political, technical and advocacy support until measles and rubella elimination has been achieved.
RVC verifies measles and rubella elimination
The independent RVC assesses Member States’ progress towards elimination of measles and rubella by reviewing epidemiological and laboratory surveillance data submitted by each country’s national verification committee, now established in 50 of the 53 Member States.
At its 4th meeting, in October 2015, the RVC was able to assess, for the first time, the performance of each country over 36 consecutive months. According to the Framework for the verification process in the WHO European Region and conclusions of the European Technical Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, once a country has demonstrated the absence of endemic measles or rubella virus transmission for at least 36 consecutive months, the RVC can verify that the disease has been eliminated.
The RVC was pleased to confirm that 32 countries interrupted transmission of endemic measles and/or rubella in 2014, and to verify that 21 Member States had eliminated measles and 20 had eliminated rubella within their borders during the period 2012–2014. High-quality surveillance to detect cases and monitor chains of virus transmission and very high immunization coverage (≥ 95%) with two doses of vaccine against measles and rubella were essential to attain this goal.