Sunday, March 23, 2014

Australia, South Korea among W. Pacific countries declared measles-free

With outbreaks of measles raging in areas of the Pacific–the Philippines and Vietnam to name a couple, the World Health Organization in the Western Pacific Region announced this week that four countries were declared measles-free.

Australia, Macao (China), Mongolia and the Republic of Korea become the first countries to earn this distinction in the Western Pacific.

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“The elimination of measles must remain a priority in order to promote equity and to reduce the high burden of mortality and morbidity caused by this disease on the world’s most vulnerable, not only in our Region but also around the world,” said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific in his comments to the Regional Verification Commission meeting in Seoul. “Far too many children succumb to a virus infection that can be prevented so easily by a vaccine that should be part of any standard immunization programme”.

“All countries must now intensify their efforts to immunize all children against measles and indeed other vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly those in harder-to-reach communities and remote areas”, urged Dr Shin. “We must reach every community, no matter where they are. This is the heart of equity. We have made significant progress in recent years. Let us not be complacent but strive even harder to help ensure the well-being of generations to come.” Since 2009, more than 230 million children have been immunized against measles through mass vaccination campaigns in the Western Pacific Region.

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