2018 Sep 7
Malaria-free in 2015.
Filaria-free in 2016.
Neonatal Tetanus-free in 2017.
What’s Lanka’s next feat for 2018?
We can now proudly add being a rubella-free nation to the list!
Rubella is an infection that has been often confused with measles. The two do share similar characteristics; however, rubella has generally been referred to as a milder illness. Its symptoms, including a distinct red rash, headache and fever, often disappeared within the span of a few days, giving the illness its trademark nickname- “three-day measles”.
Despite its mild status, it was soon discovered that rubella had fatal effects in pregnant women. Severe birth defects, miscarriages and stillbirth were all leading back to one main source- Congenital Rubella Syndrome.
Lanka’s first significant outbreaks took place in 1994 and 1995. The vaccine was soon introduced in 1996 and was specifically targeting all females of reproductive age from 11 to 44, given the dire effects it had on infants. Reported cases gradually decreased but soon became a worrisome problem once again between the years 2009 to 2011. Number of reported cases rose as high as 416 in 2011, according to WHO reports. Given the recent complications, the Health Ministry took to focusing on combating this virus, setting a vision of eradicating it by 2020.
Needless to say, they have succeeded in their goal, with 2 years to spare!
The World Health Organization’s Regional Director for South-East Asia, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, presented the certification to Lanka’s Health Minister, officially declaring the island rubella-free on Wednesday (5th September) at the WHO South-East Asia Regional Conference.
The Director also commended the nation on our consecutive success in eliminating disease, making this yet another landmark for Lanka’s healthcare services.