One year after Australia, Macao (China), Mongolia and the Republic of Korea were declared measles-free, the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region added Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia and Japan to the list of countries and areas in the Western Pacific Region that have successfully eliminated measles.
The Region has made substantial progress, with measles deaths dropping to 1500 in 2013 from 10,400 in 2000. Measles cases also dropped dramatically to 31,706 cases in 2013 from 177,052 cases in 2000.
“Measles elimination is achievable in the Western Pacific Region. Increased commitment, funding and advocacy are all urgently required to immunize all children against measles, especially the most vulnerable in the hardest to reach communities,” said Dr Shin Young-soo, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for the Western Pacific. “Recent progress is impressive, but we must do more to ensure that immunization programmes reach everyone and measles elimination continues to be a priority.”
Measles elimination in Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia and Japan was made possible because each of the three countries was able to achieve high coverage with two doses of measles vaccine either through routine immunization or immunization campaigns.
Worldwide, measles kills 400 people a day—or about 16 deaths every hour, most of whom are children under the age of five. “Measles is the most highly infectious disease known, and it is easily prevented with just two doses of measles vaccine,” said Dr Sergey Diorditsa, Coordinator, Expanded Programme on Immunization for the WHO Western Pacific Region.