According to the conclusions of the European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC), released on 5 April, 32 countries in the European Region have interrupted transmission of endemic measles and/or rubella.
The independent RVC assesses member states’ progress towards elimination of measles and rubella by reviewing epidemiological and laboratory surveillance data submitted by each country’s national verification committee, now established in 50 of the 53 member states.
At its fourth meeting, in October 2015, the RVC was able to assess, for the first time, the performance of each country over 36 consecutive months. According to the Framework for the verification process in the WHO European Region and conclusions of the European Technical Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, once a country has demonstrated the absence of endemic measles or rubella virus transmission for at least 36 consecutive months, the RVC can verify that the disease has been eliminated.
The RVC was pleased to confirm that 32 countries interrupted transmission of endemic measles and/or rubella in 2014, and to verify that 21 member states had eliminated measles and 20 had eliminated rubella within their borders during the period 2012-2014. High-quality surveillance to detect cases and monitor chains of virus transmission and very high immunization coverage (≥ 95%) with two doses of vaccine against measles and rubella were essential to attain this goal.
In addition to commending countries for achieving these objectives, the RVC made recommendations to help under-performing countries catch up. They identified gaps in surveillance, coverage and annual reporting, which they argue demonstrate that greater commitment and support are urgently needed to achieve elimination throughout the European Region.
Eliminating measles and rubella is a core goal of the European Vaccine Action Plan 2015–2020 and an important part of global efforts to improve health and reduce inequalities (Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 10, respectively). The RVC and WHO are committed to the verification process and will continue to provide support until measles and rubella elimination has been achieved.