Health topics

Measles and rubella


Measles is a highly contagious viral disease whose common complications include pneumonia and diarrhoea. Death may occur in up to 5-10% of infected young children in developing countries. The Measles Fact Sheet (see link below) provides a detailed description of measles symptoms, complications, transmission, prevention and other related issues. The Western Pacific Region (WPR) is committed to eliminating measles, that is, the sustained interruption of endemic measles virus transmission, as articulated in Regional Committee resolutions in 2003, 2005 and 2010. The core strategies for measles elimination include achieving and maintaining 95% population immunity against measles virus through routine and/or supplementary immunization activities, sensitive and timely case-based surveillance, and access to an accredited laboratory to confirm suspected cases and detect virus. Since 2003, over 300 million persons were immunized against measles through vaccination campaigns in the WPR; measles incidence in 2011 was at an all time low of 12 cases per million population.

Rubella is also a contagious viral disease, but milder than measles. However, when rubella infects a pregnant woman during the first half of her pregnancy, there is danger of fetal death or birth defects affecting primarily the eyes, ears, heart, and brain. The Rubella Fact Sheet (see link below) provides a description of rubella symptoms, complications (including congenital rubella syndrome), transmission, prevention and other issues. The Regional Committee in 2010 urged Member States to accelerate control of rubella. Vaccination against rubella now is conducted routinely in 32 of our 37 constituent countries and areas, and several Member States are conducting vaccination campaigns to accelerate rubella control.