Sri Lanka declared measles-free

Sometimes it's good to get some good news for the week, and for this round of "the world isn't going to hell," we're looking towards Sri Lanka.

While much of the developed world, and nations throughout Southeast Asia are struggling with a resurgence in measles cases, Sri Lanka has been bucking the global trend, with the World Health Organisation recently declaring the country Measles-free.

Sri Lanka's last known case of home-grown measles was reported in May 2016. Any case since then has been a case of measles first contracted internationally, and then brought into the country and treated.

"Sri Lanka's achievement comes at a time when globally measles cases are increasing. The country's success demonstrates its commitment, and the determination of its health workforce and parents to protect children against measles," Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of WHO South-East Asia, said in a statement.

It really shouldn't have to be said, but vaccines work. Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Timor-Leste are also nations in the region that have been declared measles-free by the WHO. The Philippines and Indonesia, however, continue to struggle with some of the largest measles outbreaks of the last few decades, with much of this due to misinformation surrounding vaccines, their effectiveness and risks.

Again, vaccines save lives.

98 nations have reported a significant increase in measles over the past year, with outbreaks continuing throughout this year. Ten nations account for more than 78% of measles cases worldwide.

Measles is a respiratory disease that cases a bad rash and a fever, and can be fatal to children if left untreated. The best way to protect children against Measles is to make sure they have received the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine on time. The WHO recommends two doses of the MMR vaccine for it to be completely effective.

Sri Lanka regularly carries out mass vaccination programs that reach into small communities and rural areas, and also puts in place measles surveillance programs.

Much of the misinformation regarding vaccines stems from anti-vaxxers who claim that vaccinations can cause autism. There is absolutely no scientific evidence for this, but has led to an increase in measles cases across the world, and even deaths due to the disease.

Photo: Unsplash/Sander Don

Measles cases around the globe tripled in the first quarter of 2019, compared to 2018. Eradicating measles is key to achieving Global Goal 3 - good health and wellbeing. Vaccination programs like those held in Sri Lanka are critical to efforts to stem the tide of the disease across the world, particularly in Asia.

Why Care? HEALTH, WATER AND SANITATION

Over a billion people around the world don't have adequate access to clean drinking water or hygienic toilets, leading to preventable water-borne diseases, In Asia alone, almost 700 million dont have access to potable water.