Measles and rubella 'eradicated' from Malta

World Health Organisation officially confirms the eradication of measles and rubella from the Maltese islands

Measles and rubella have been “eradicated” from Malta, the World Health Organisation said in a communiqué to the Maltese health authorities.

This as a result of the high intake of the MMR vaccine which last year reached 98%; 94.3% took the second dose.

Parliamentary secretary for health Chris Fearne said the positive results were down to the vaccination programme.

Shadow health minister Claudette Buttigieg said that the result would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of Malta’s doctors, scientists, nurses and other medical specialists. 

Measles, a highly infectious vaccine-preventable disease, remains one of the leading causes of childhood mortality, leading to an estimated 450 deaths each day worldwide. Rubella is an infection that is usually mild when experienced in childhood; but it can often lead to serious and sometimes fatal complications in the foetus when an unprotected woman acquires the infection early in pregnancy (congenital rubella infection) or to congenital rubella syndrome in newborns.

Measles, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) are preventable through immunization. All countries in the WHO European Region include highly effective and safe measles and rubella vaccines in their vaccination programmes; however, due to persistent gaps in immunization coverage outbreaks of measles and rubella continue to occur. 

WHO/Europe places a high priority on eliminating measles and rubella from the Region by 2015. To this end, a "Package for accelerated action" was presented to the Region’s ministers of health on 18 September 2013, outlining stepped-up actions to be taken by WHO, Member States and other partners in order to reach this goal.

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