Singapore has eliminated measles, and Australia, Brunei Darussalam and Macao SAR (China) have eliminated rubella, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced.
In October 2017, all 37 countries and areas in the WHO Western Pacific Region committed to eliminating measles and rubella.
That year saw the incidence of both diseases drop to record lows in the region - 5.2 cases of measles and 2.45 cases of rubella per million people. The WHO says the progress is a testament to the power of strengthened immunisation programmes, disease surveillance and laboratory capacity.
The are now nine measles-free countries and areas in the Region: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Hong Kong SAR (China), Japan, Macao SAR (China), New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore. Among these, five have also eliminated rubella: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Macao SAR (China), New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.
However, Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Region cautioned: “Countries still working towards elimination should further strengthen control efforts. Even in countries that have achieved elimination, the job is not done. They must remain vigilant, continue improving vaccination rates and catch any imported cases to ensure these diseases cannot spread again.”