WHO / MEASLES EUROPEAN REGION

28-Aug-2019 00:02:16
Following several years of steady progress toward elimination of measles in the European region, the number of countries having achieved or sustained elimination of the disease has declined. This was the conclusion of the European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC) based on an assessment of annual status updates for 2018 submitted by the 53 Member States of the European Region. WHO
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STORY: WHO / MEASLES EUROPEAN REGION
TRT: 2:16
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 28 AUGUST 2019, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
FILE - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, World Health Organization headquarters

28 AUGUST 2019, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Katherine O’Brien, Director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, World Health Organization (WHO):
“We have a safe and effective vaccine against measles. It's given in two doses, and every child everywhere who can get the vaccine should get the vaccine. This is a vaccine that works. It means if your immunized the likelihood that you will ever suffer from measles for your lifetime is extremely low. So, every parent, every family, every grandparent, each community needs to support the vaccines system in their community needs to go and get vaccines for their children.”
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Katherine O’Brien, Director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Measles is an extremely contagious disease. For every case of measles that occurs among people who are not immune, about 18 additional cases are going to occur. As a result, when we have a measles case in a community, we know that measles is finding people who are not immunized. It's essentially the canary in the coal mine; it's the pathfinder or the identifier, the litmus test of people who are not vaccinated. And that means that they're probably not vaccinated to other diseases as well and are at risk of getting other vaccine preventable diseases that they are not immune to.”
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Siddhartha Datta, Programme Manager, Vaccine-preventable Diseases and Immunization, WHO Regional Office for Europe:
“Since 2018 when the verification process started in the WHO European region, this is the first time ever that the four countries in our region, Albania, Czech Republic, Greece and the United Kingdom, they actually have lost their elimination status. Because their verification committee could verify that the measles transmission for more than or equal to 12 months in all of these four countries in our region.”
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Siddhartha Datta, Programme Manager, Vaccine-preventable Diseases and Immunization, WHO Regional Office for Europe:
“So, the transmission of measles that happen in the country are, as we all say, they are all context-specific and the multifactorial that can range from issues related to access to vaccine, or to complacency at the population because they don't see these diseases at this point of time. So, it has to be seen what are those local factors, or the focal factors, which has led to this transmission, number one; and also why what are the systemic factors which has led to this transmission to go around for a period of 12 months when they could not contain it.”

FILE - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

6. Close up, WHO flag
STORYLINE
Following several years of steady progress toward elimination of measles in the European region, the number of countries having achieved or sustained elimination of the disease has declined. This was the conclusion of the European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC) based on an assessment of annual status updates for 2018 submitted by the 53 Member States of the European Region.

The RVC determined that for the first time since the verification process began in the Region in 2012, 4 countries (Albania, Czech Republic, Greece and the United Kingdom) lost their measles elimination status.

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Siddhartha Datta, Programme Manager, Vaccine-preventable Diseases and Immunization, WHO Regional Office for Europe:
“Since 2018 when the verification process started in the WHO European region, this is the first time ever that the four countries in our region, Albania, Czech Republic, Greece and the United Kingdom, they actually have lost their elimination status. Because their verification committee could verify that the measles transmission for more than or equal to 12 months in all of these four countries in our region.”

The RVC was on the other hand pleased to conclude that Austria and Switzerland attained elimination status, having demonstrated the interruption of endemic transmission for at least 36 months.

For the European region as a whole, as of the end of 2018, 35 countries are considered to have achieved or sustained measles elimination (compared to 37 for 2017), 2 have interrupted the endemic transmission of measles (for 12 to 35 months), 12 remain endemic for measles and four that had previously eliminated the disease have re-established measles transmission.

The surge in cases that began in 2018 has continued into 2019, with approximately 90,000 cases reported for the first half of the year. This is already more than that recorded for the whole of 2018 (84,462).

The ongoing circulation of measles in the European region continues to be internally classified within WHO as a Grade 2 emergency. This designation allows the Organization to mobilize the technical, financial and human resources needed to support the affected countries.

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Siddhartha Datta, Programme Manager, Vaccine-preventable Diseases and Immunization, WHO Regional Office for Europe:
“So, the transmission of measles that happen in the country are, as we all say, they are all context-specific and the multifactorial that can range from issues related to access to vaccine, or to complacency at the population because they don't see these diseases at this point of time. So, it has to be seen what are those local factors, or the focal factors, which has led to this transmission, number one; and also why what are the systemic factors which has led to this transmission to go around for a period of 12 months when they could not contain it.”

The RVC is an independent panel of experts that meets annually to assess measles elimination status in the Region based on extensive annual reports submitted by each country. It met on 12¬–14 June 2019 in Warsaw, Poland to evaluate reports for 2018 and based its conclusion on several factors including measles surveillance data, routine immunization coverage, outbreak response, and the reach of supplemental immunization campaigns and other activities.

The RVC also concluded that the situation for rubella has improved. 39 countries achieved or sustained elimination status (compared to 37 in 2017), 3 interrupted endemic transmission (compared to 5 in 2017) and 11 countries continue to be considered endemic for rubella.

Dr Katherine O’Brien, Director of Immunization at the World Health Organization (WHO), said measles infects children largely, but anybody who is not immune to the virus can get disease. She said over 360,000 measles cases have so far been reported to WHO in 2019, more than any entire year since 2006, adding that the world was backsliding in terms of measles control.

O’Brien said measles is “an extremely contagious disease” adding that “for every case of measles that occurs among people who are not immune, about 18 additional cases are going to occur.” She said measles finds people who are not immunized as a result. She added, “It's essentially the canary in the coal mine; it's the pathfinder or the identifier, the litmus test of people who are not vaccinated. And that means that they're probably not vaccinated to other diseases as well and are at risk of getting other vaccine preventable diseases that they are not immune to.”

She said, “We have a safe and effective vaccine against measles. It's given in two doses, and every child everywhere who can get the vaccine should get the vaccine. This is a vaccine that works. It means if your immunized the likelihood that you will ever suffer from measles for your lifetime is extremely low. So, every parent, every family, every grandparent, each community needs to support the vaccines system in their community needs to go and get vaccines for their children.”
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