WHO declares Sri Lanka measles free

World Health Organization

COLOMBO, July 10 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) Wednesday said that Sri Lanka had successfully eliminated measles from the island country.

The WHO praised Sri Lanka's achievement in a statement at a time when measles cases were increasing globally.

The WHO South-East Asia Regional Director Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh said Sri Lanka's success demonstrated its commitment, the determination of its health workforce and parents to protect children against measles.

An independent verification committee reviewed in detail all data and ongoing efforts for measles elimination in the island nation and concluded that Sri Lanka had stopped transmission of indigenous measles virus.

The country reported its last case of measles caused by an indigenous virus in May 2016.

"The risk of importations of measles virus from countries near and far will remain, especially from those that have significant population movement with Sri Lanka. Further strengthening the immunity of the vulnerable population, capacities to detect and readiness to respond to measles virus both at the national and sub-national levels, would be the key to the country's continued measles-free status in the coming years," said the WHO official.

Sri Lanka is the fourth country in WHO South-East Asia Region, after Bhutan, Maldives and Timor-Leste, to eliminate measles and control rubella, a flagship priority program of WHO in the region, ahead of the 2020 regional target.

Last year Sri Lanka achieved rubella control, along with five other countries, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Timor-Leste.

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