The International Expert Committee (IEC), responsible for documenting and verifying the elimination of measles, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) in the Americas, met on 29-30 March 2012, at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) headquarters. The objective of the meeting was to assess the progress achieved on this topic and to define the road map to sustain the elimination of these diseases in the Region. The Presidents and members of National Commissions along with health authorities from countries that reported sustained measles outbreaks and rubella cases in 2011 were also convened for an ad-hoc meeting with the IEC.
With the circulation of measles virus and rubella in other regions, and the constant risk of importation of these viruses in the countries of the Americas, the Committee emphasized the need to distinguish between having achieved the goal of elimination and sustaining the elimination, for the latter it is essential to ensure the political commitment, resources and infrastructure in all countries.
As the Americas is a Region with a solid pro-vaccination culture and successful immunization programs, the Committee will recommend that PAHO Member States not risk complacency and implement the following actions to maintain the current progress:
• continuous monitoring of the population that has not been vaccinated against measles and rubella in the routine program especially in the high risk areas (e.g. tourist areas, borders, difficult access, etc);
• high-quality follow-up campaigns, obtaining uniform coverage ≥95% in all municipalities; and
• evaluation of the measles and rubella surveillance systems to improve the quality of reporting and investigation, improving the collaboration with the private sector.
Lastly, the Committee discussed the regional progress report on the documentation and verification of these diseases that will be presented to the Ministers of Health of the PAHO Member States at the Pan American Sanitary Conference to be held 17-21 September 2012.
Published in Global Immunization Newsletter, April 2012.