The Ministry of Health is pleased to share that Belize received the official statements on the announcement of the Regions of the Americas having eliminated measles, rubella and Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS).
The declaration was signed by the members of the International Expert Committee of the Measles-Rubella National Commissions. This declaration was first announced in September at the 55th Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), which was attended by the Minister of Health Hon. Pablo Marin.
Measles is one of the most contagious diseases that primarily affect children. The Expert Committee reviewed evidence on measles elimination presented by all countries of the Region between 2015 and August 2016 and concluded that it met the criteria for elimination. To maintain the measles elimination efforts, all countries must strengthen active surveillance to maintain immunity through their vaccination program. Belize was specially praised and awarded second place for Surveillance at this year’s meeting of Immunization Managers; having fallen from first place in 2015, from among 24 countries in the Caribbean Region. The Ministry of Health commends hard working and committed health care providers and volunteers who consistently participate in surveillance of communicable diseases, reporting and investigating cases of concern across the country in a collective aim to maintain a high immunity rate in country.
Before mass vaccination was initiated in 1980, measles caused nearly 2.6 million annual deaths worldwide. Recent studies have estimated that 16,000 deaths and 3.2 million measles cases will have been prevented in the region because of vaccination between 2000 and 2020. Measles is the fifth vaccine-preventable disease to be eliminated from the Americas. The last case of measles in Belize was in 1991, rubella in 2001, and CRS in 1997. Belize is now presently participating in the process to eradicate Polio from the Americas.