FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

WHO declares Mongolia free of measles

The World Health Organization announced on Tuesday that Mongolia is measles free.

The Mongolian government received a certificate acknowledging the achievement from the WHO's Regional Office for the Western Pacific, joining Australia, Macao, China and South Korea as the only countries and areas in the region that have a 95 percent population immunity level against the disease.

"This is an important step towards measles elimination in the Western Pacific Region," Shin Young-soo, the WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said. "It demonstrates that measles elimination is not only theoretically feasible, but also achievable in middle- and low-income countries and areas of the Western Pacific."

During a ceremony in Ulan Bator, Mongolian Prime Minister Norovyn Altankhuyag acknowledged the efforts of healthcare workers and parents, as well as the WHO and other partners in supporting measles vaccination programs.

Mongolia adopted a national immunization program in 1993 and a law on immunization in 2002. The Mongolian government covered 90 percent of the costs for vaccinations in 2013, versus 7 percent in 2003.

By 1940, Mongolia became the first country in Asia to eliminate smallpox. The country first began using measles vaccines provided by the WHO in 1974.

The WHO plans to help member states in its Western Pacific Region eliminate measles by 2020.