Opening Remarks of Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, at the Workshop on Verification of Measles Elimination
DISTINGUISHED PARTICIPANTS AND PARTNERS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
Good morning and welcome to the Workshop on Verification of Measles Elimination.
It is an honour to welcome chairs of the national verification committees as well as our partners.
It is also good to see all the dedicated professionals from the ministries of health, and the Regional Verification Commission as well as the Chairperson of the Subregional Committee for Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication in the Pacific Island Countries and Areas.
Your participation is especially important now — because 2013 is a critical year for measles elimination in the Western Pacific Region.
Now more than ever, we must intensify our efforts and investment.
Our progress has been exceptional.
Measles cases went down by 55% from 2011 to 2012. This was after an 86% reduction 2008 to 2011.
Of the 37 countries and areas in the Region…
… 32 may have already interrupted endemic measles transmission
… and 27 may be ready to initiate the verification process because they have been free of endemic measles for more than three years.
In today's meeting, the Regional Verification Commission will provide guidance for verifying measles elimination by country and eventually for the whole Region
For now, however, we should remember that we have not yet finished the job of measles elimination.
The Regional Committee endorsed a resolution in September to interrupt endemic measles transmission as soon as possible.
The resolution called on Member States to intensify efforts for overcoming remaining and emerging challenges.
To turn the resolution into action, the technical unit here at the Regional Office developed the Measles Elimination Field Guide.
The guide provides national immunization programmes with practical strategies and proven approaches.
The field guide highlights three essential areas to ensure success:
One: we must close immunity gaps before the virus can get through them.
Two: we must respond to any outbreaks like fire fighters rushing to contain a blaze before it spreads.
And three, surveillance must be so tight that we identify every child affected with measles, not just those in health facilities, but even in the community.
This meeting is an opportunity to reinforce these guiding principles.
Only by achieving, sustaining and verifying elimination can we ensure a bright future free of measles for our Region.
Your commitment and dedication, along with new strategies and approaches, give me great confidence — confidence that working together we will eliminate measles in the Region soon.
I wish you a productive meeting and look forward to reviewing your conclusions and actions going forward.