Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Rubella Elimination in Sight?

At the annual meeting of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), leaders of the 44 member countries and territories of the region renewed their vows to make rubella elimination in the Americas a top public health priority. This scale-up will include increased efforts to combat both rubella and congenital rubella syndrome. Now in the so-called “final stages” of rubella elimination, the major challenge in the region is to maintain vaccine coverage at over 95% - the percentage needed in order for elimination of rubella infection to be achieved. Increasing access to childhood vaccines, as well as implementing public health surveillance systems and other programs, are still needed in many areas. The completion of rubella vaccination programs alone, especially in Brazil and Mexico, will require another $112.5 million. Maintenance of scaled-up childhood vaccination programs, including MMR – the combination vaccine for measles virus, mumps virus, and rubella virus – will also prove to be a challenge.

Despite these barriers to universal coverage, much improvement has been made in the last 2 decades on the front of childhood vaccinations and, in particular, rubella control. In the 1980s, only 6 of the 44 PAHO countries and territories included rubella vaccine in their childhood immunization programs. By comparison, approximately 99% of newborns currently have access to the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. Incidence of rubella is now the lowest in history, leading many political leaders and public health officials to be highly optimistic about the goal of completely eliminating rubella infection in the Americas by 2010.

“Rubella Elimination Advancing in the Americas.” Oct. 10, 2008. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/84459.php

- Claire

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