Western Pacific countries eradicate measles

The World Health Organization announced on Thursday that the Western Pacific Region has eliminated measles in Australia, Macao, Mongolia and the Republic of Korea.

"The elimination of measles must remain a priority in order to promote equity and to reduce the high burden of mortality and morbidity caused by this disease on the world's most vulnerable, not only in our region but also around the world," Shin Young-soo, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said. "Far too many children succumb to a virus infection that can be prevented so easily by a vaccine that should be part of any standard immunization program."

WHO said measles kills approximately 330 people every day. More than 230 million children in the Western Pacific Region have been vaccinated against measles since 2009.

China, the Philippines and Vietnam experienced outbreaks of measles in 2013 and early 2014. Despite the outbreaks, WHO said steady progress in vaccination programs resulted in historically low levels of infection at the end of 2012.

"All countries must now intensify their efforts to immunize all children against measles and indeed other vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly those in harder-to-reach communities and remote areas," Shin said. "We must reach every community, no matter where they are. This is the heart of equity. We have made significant progress in recent years. Let us not be complacent but strive even harder to help ensure the well-being of generations to come."