Measles | 10 Jul 2019

The World Health Organization (WHO), has declared Sri Lanka, a measles-free country.

  • Sri Lanka is the fifth country in the WHO southeast Asia region to eliminate measles.
    • The elimination of a disease means that there have been zero new cases of the disease in the last three years.
    • The country reported its last case of measles in May 2016.
    • The other countries in the region which have eliminated measles in their geographical area are Bhutan, Maldives, DPR Korea and Timor-Leste.
  • Sri Lanka has also become the fourth country in the region, after Bhutan, Maldives and Timor-Leste, to eliminate measles and control rubella, a flagship priority programme of WHO in the region, ahead of the 2020 regional target.
    • Rubella control is achieved when a country reduces the number of rubella cases by 95% as compared to cases in the year 2008.
  • Sri Lanka’s achievement has come at a time when globally measles cases are increasing.
  • According to the latest Global Measles and Rubella Update, India had 56,399 confirmed measles cases and 1,066 confirmed rubella cases in the year 2018, thus quite far from eliminating the diseases in its boundary.

Rubella and Measles

  • Rubella is a contagious, generally mild viral infection that occurs most often in children and young adults.
  • Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is a cause of death among young children globally.
  • Though the diseases are caused by different viruses but share more or less the same symptoms, including the red rashes.
  • The Measles & Rubella Initiative, a global program, aims at eliminating both these diseases.
  • The vaccine for the diseases are provided in the form of measles-rubella (MR), measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) combination.