WHO Western Pacific Region closer to eliminating measles

The nations in the World Health Organization's Western Pacific Region are being called on to intensify their efforts to eliminate measles.

If successful, the region would become the second of the six WHO regions to halt the spread of the infectious childhood illness, according to

"We have a chance to eliminate a terrible, yet preventable disease from our Region," Dr Shin, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, said, reports. "We must finish the job. Measles virus continues to circulate in just a few countries in the Region. It carries the potential to make children extremely ill and even cause deaths."

The WHO said that endemic measles infections have likely been stopped in 32 of the region's 36 countries and is calling for the remaining nations to immunize their children, especially those in hard-to-reach communities and remote areas.

In 2008, measles incidence rates were 82 cases per million. By 2011, rates had dropped to 12 cases per million.

"Where there are measles cases, there are gaps in health service delivery to communities," Dr Shin said, according to "Therefore, measles elimination is not just about one disease, it is in fact urging us to reach every community with improved health services. This is the heart of equity."