European Region loses ground in effort to eliminate measles

03 September 2019

Article: 53/3503

After several years of steady progress toward elimination of measles in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region, the number of countries having achieved or sustained elimination of the disease has declined. This is 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 region.

The RVC determined that for the first time since the verification process began in the Region in 2012, four countries (Albania, Czechia, Greece and the UK) lost their measles elimination status. However, the RVC further concluded that Austria and Switzerland attained elimination status, having demonstrated the interruption of endemic transmission for at least 36 months.

As of the end of 2018, 35 countries in the region are considered to have achieved or sustained measles elimination (compared to 37 for 2017), two 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 WHO has published a detailed epidemiological analysis of the measles situation in the region as of mid-2019. 

Source: WHO Europe, 29 August 2019