By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination for the Western Pacific announced Friday that Hong Kong has achieved rubella-free status.

“Rubella elimination exemplifies Hong Kong’s continuous efforts in prevention and control of communicable diseases. It also highlights the importance of vaccination in preventing disease as well as protecting oneself and the community—over 99% of pre-school children in Hong Kong have received rubella vaccine over the past decade. I wish to commend the dedication of Hong Kong’s health professionals over the years and the support of parents in ensuring that their children are vaccinated,” said Prof Sophia Chan, Secretary for Food and Health, Government of Hong Kong SAR (China).

“The success of Hong Kong SAR (China) with rubella elimination underscores the importance of strong systems for routine immunization and surveillance for infectious diseases,” said Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. “I wish to congratulate the government, health workers and all the people who have been a part of this success. Thanks to their efforts, all children born in Hong Kong SAR (China) will have lifelong protection against the disease.”

Hong Kong  joins Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Macao SAR (China), New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea as countries and areas in the Region to have interrupted endemic transmission of the virus that causes rubella.

Rubella is a viral infection that occurs most often in children and young adults. When a woman is infected with rubella during pregnancy, it can cause fetal death or birth defects. It is the leading vaccine-preventable cause of birth defects worldwide. There is no specific treatment for rubella, but the disease is preventable by vaccination.