The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Maldives free of rubella.
Announcing this, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) congratulated “all the health professionals whose hard work has made this possible”.
Rubella is a disease that can cause many birth defects in children born to infected mothers.
While Sri Lanka has also been declared rubella-free, these are the first two countries in the South-East Asia region to eliminate both measles and rubella ahead of a 2023 target.
A country is considered to have eliminated measles and rubella when there is no evidence of endemic transmission of the viruses for more than three years and there is a well- performing surveillance system.
While Maldives reported its last endemic case of measles in 2009 and rubella in October 2015, Sri Lanka reported its last endemic case of measles in May 2016 and rubella in March 2017.
11 countries in WHO's South-East Asia region set 2023 as a target for the elimination of measles and rubella, last September. The countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, North Korea, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. WHO said Bhutan, East Timor and North Korea have succeeded in eliminating measles.