Capacity-building in data analysis and reporting expected to boost progress towards measles and rubella elimination

WHO

WHO/Europe works with all Member States of the WHO European Region to eliminate the threat of measles and rubella, which is one of the priority objectives of the European Vaccine Action Plan 2015–2020. Steady progress towards this target has been made over the past years, but the European Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination (RVC) has also noted a need for further improvement in activities that underpin the verification process.

Accurate reporting of complete and high-quality data, including molecular epidemiology data, and stronger involvement of the national verification committees (NVCs) are essential for the RVC to annually assess each country’s status.

WHO/Europe therefore organized 2 intercountry meetings to help increase the capacity and understanding of NVCs and national programmes related to verification requirements, and to review modifications to the annual reporting form. The meetings brought together:

  • all RVC members;
  • representatives of a global specialized laboratory of the United Kingdom and regional reference laboratories in Germany, Luxembourg and the Russian Federation;
  • country representatives, including NVC members, immunization programme managers and leaders of national reference laboratories for measles and rubella; and
  • a representative of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The first meeting, held on 21–22 November 2017, was attended by representatives of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. The second, held on 23–24 November 2017, was attended by representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Background

Every year, the NVC in each country submits an annual status update (ASU) to WHO, detailing immunization coverage, disease surveillance data (comprising epidemiological and laboratory information on measles, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome cases), and any measures taken to increase vaccination uptake and improve population immunity.

The RVC then reviews the NVCs’ assessments and all information in the ASUs, and verifies whether endemic transmission of measles and/or rubella has been interrupted in the year of observation in the countries of the Region.

Following assessment of the ASUs for 2016, the RVC determined that 42 Member States had interrupted the endemic spread of measles and 37 had done so for rubella. The RVC further recommended that WHO provide technical support and training to help countries maintain or achieve interruption status and accelerate the verification process. The RVC emphasized the importance of improving the timeliness and quality of data reporting, and the need for further modification of the ASU form.