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Measles and Rubella in South-East Asia

  • 06 Sep 2019
  • 3 min read

The member countries of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Committee for South-East Asia have resolved to eliminate highly infectious diseases Measles and Rubella by 2023.

  • The data shows that Bhutan, DPR Korea, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste from the South East Asia region have eliminated Measles.
  • On the other hand, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste have controlled Rubella.
  • To achieve the Elimination of Measles and Rubella by 2023, the member-countries resolved to strengthen the immunisation systems for increasing and sustaining the high level of population immunity.
  • The resolution also calls for ensuring a highly sensitive laboratory supported case-based surveillance system.
  • Eliminating measles will prevent 500,000 deaths a year in the region while eliminating rubella would avert about 55,000 cases of rubella and promote the health and wellbeing of pregnant women and infants.


  • It is a highly contagious viral disease and is a cause of death among young children globally.
  • It is particularly dangerous for children from the economically weaker background, as it attacks malnourished children and those with reduced immunity.
  • It can cause serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhoea, ear infection and pneumonia.


  • It is also called German Measles.
  • Rubella is a contagious, generally mild viral infection that occurs most often in children and young adults.
  • Rubella infection in pregnant women may cause fetal death or congenital defects known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS).
  • Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) causes irreversible birth defects.
  • Apart from the above initiatives, India has also pledged to contribute $2,00,000 towards the implementation of the preparedness stream under the South-East Asia Health Emergency Response Fund (SEARHEF)
    • Under this initiative, Special surveillance is to be mounted for early detection and control of vector-borne and waterborne diseases which helped to contain the outbreak of epidemic-prone disease following cyclone Fani.
    • The Health Ministers of the South-East Asia Region of WHO also signed the Delhi Declaration on Emergency Preparedness.

WHO’s Regional Committee for South-East Asia

  • The Regional Committee for South-East Asia is the World Health Organization’s governing body in the South-East Asia Region, with representatives from all 11 Member States of the Region.
  • It meets every year to review progress in health development in the Region.
  • It formulates resolutions on health issues for the Member States, as well as considers the regional implications of World Health Assembly resolutions.
  • The Member Countries are:
    • Bangladesh
    • Bhutan
    • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
    • India
    • Indonesia
    • Maldives
    • Myanmar
    • Nepal
    • Sri Lanka
    • Thailand
    • Timor-Leste


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