Measles, a disease religiously vaccinated against in developed countries, has now been declared eradicated in Mongolia
On the 8th of July 2014, the World Health Organisation granted the Mongolian government a measles-elimination certificate, certifying that the country is now officially measles free. This comes as surprising news considering the recent measles outbreak in the economic superpower of the world; the United States of America. Mongolia joins the Special Administrative Region of Macau, Australia and the Republic of Korea as the only nations and territories of the Western Pacific region to have halted the spread and occurrence of measles for the past three years. The prevalence of measles is a particularly important indicator of development and health standards in a nation, as the virus can be contracted by anyone who has not been vaccinated against it. This suggests that in the USA, although a high income country, individuals choosing not to vaccinate their children are contracting the virus elsewhere (particularly on visits to other countries), and are bringing it back to the States, further infecting those that have not been vaccinated.
Dr.Shin-Young Soo, Regional Director for the Western Pacific region of the WHO, was pleased to note that “measles eradication is not only theoretically feasible, but also achievable in middle- and low-income countries and areas of the Western Pacific.”
At a ceremony to mark this achievement in the Mongolian capital Ulanbataar, the prime minister Norovyn Altankhuyag credited the success of the countries immunization efforts to heath-care workers, the WHO, UNICEF and above all, to parents who have played an integral role in making sure their children have been vaccinated.
The Mongolian Health Minister Natsag Udval has noted that since adopting a national immunization programme in 1993, along with other legislation, the Mongolian Government was able to cover 90% of the cost of vaccines in 2013, versus 7% in 2003. Indeed, mogolia has a track record for the early adoption of immunization programmes: In 1933, the country used a locally produced vaccine against smallpox and by 1940, it was the first nation in Asia to eradicate smallpox.
In 1973, the introduction of a WHO-provided measles vaccine proved vital, and Mongolia started receiving measles vaccines from WHO in 1974.
Thankfully, other countries in the region will soon hopefully be able to achieve eradication of the disease, as WHO aims to help Member States eliminate measles in the Western Pacific Region by 2020.
Find the press release here: World Health Organisation Western Pacific Region