Following several years of steady progress towards the elimination of measles in the European Region, the number of countries having achieved or sustained elimination of the disease has declined.
The European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC) made this conclusion based on an assessment of the annual status updates for 2018 submitted by the 53 Member States of the European Region.
The RVC determined that, for the first time since the verification process began in the Region in 2012, four countries (Albania, Czech Republic, Greece and the United Kingdom) lost their measles elimination status.
“If high immunisation coverage is not achieved and sustained in every community, both children and adults will suffer unnecessarily and some will tragically die,” said RVC Chair Dr Günter Pfaff.
For the European Region as a whole, 35 countries are considered to have achieved or sustained measles elimination at the end of 2018, compared to 37 for 2017. Two countries (Austria and Switzerland) have interrupted the endemic transmission of measles (for 12 to 35 months), 12 remain endemic for measles and four that had previously eliminated the disease have re-established measles transmission.
Approximately 90,000 measles cases were reported in Europe for the first half of 2019, compared to 84,462 recorded for all 2018.