Ensuring a future that is free from measles and rubella

Child receives the measles and rubella vaccine from a health worker.
WHO/D. Hodgson

An estimated 1.6 million children aged between nine months and 10 years old benefited from an immunization campaign designed to eliminate measles and accelerate rubella disease control in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. International field monitors were deployed to all 17 provinces in the Lao People's Democratic Republic in one of the largest measles and rubella immunization campaigns in the country's history.

The successful campaign was made possible by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Sports working in collaboration with partners of the Measles and Rubella Initiative including the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Support was also provided by CARE International, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Korea Foundation for International Healthcare, Korea International Cooperation Agency, LuxDev, M├ędecins du Monde, Save the Children, and the World Bank.

Health workers in the field demonstrated commitment in their work as they tried to achieve the target of 95% vaccination coverage, with many health centre staff and government workers setting up immunization stations at markets and key transit points like bus stations.

In the Feung District of Vientiane for example, the police and law enforcement unit helped to check the finger markings of children on public transport to ascertain that all the children were vaccinated in this campaign.

Despite efforts to ensure high vaccination coverage, many children were found to have missed their immunization, especially in the high-risk villages. This is of particular concern, as measles outbreaks were reported from 2010 to 2014, especially among ethnic minority communities.

Monitoring the quality of service delivery is an essential component of programme management. The National Immunization Programme and the Ministry of Health excelled in this area by engaging all development partners, providing feedback from the field.

Measles can cause severe complications, such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, Japanese encephalitis, blindness, malnutrition and death. Rubella is usually a mild disease in children, causing few complications. However, if a pregnant woman is exposed to rubella in her first trimester, it can lead to miscarriage, fetal death or the baby may be born with congenital rubella syndrome which can include heart and eye defects, deafness and delayed development.

The measles and rubella (MR) combination vaccine is the best way to protect a person against both diseases. Two doses of the MR vaccine will provide lifelong protection against both diseases.

For more information, please contact:

Ms Irene Tan
Communications Officer
WHO Representative Office in the Lao People's Democratic Republic
Telephone: +856 20 7811 3933
Email: TanI@wpro.who.int