EU/EEA Member States prepare for next round in annual reporting for verification of measles and rubella elimination
Annual reporting of immunization activities and disease burden by an independent national verification committee (NVC).in each Member State is required to verify the status of measles and rubella elimination in the European Region. After two rounds of reporting by Member States to the Regional Verification Commission (RVC) for the elimination of measles and rubella, WHO/Europe has initiated a series of intercountry meetings to discuss the verification process with stakeholders.
The first intercountry meeting, held in Copenhagen on 24-25 March 2015, was hosted jointly by WHO/Europe and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) to address issues encountered by the European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) Member States.
Role of NVCs
The establishment of an NVC by each Member State is an important step towards the collection and evaluation of quality data on measles and rubella. Robb Butler, acting director of the Vaccine-preventable Diseases and Immunization programme at WHO/Europe, was glad to note that 50 of the 53 Member States in the WHO European Region now have an NVC in place. He said, "the role of NVCs is crucial for the verification process at country and regional levels. The first intercountry meeting will serve as a platform to share experiences, best practices and challenges by NVCs. The real focus, the game changer, has been a focus on country ownership, not just in the planning but in the implementation of this verification process."
The meeting allowed NVC chairs and ECDC operational contact points for epidemiology of measles and/or rubella, representing 23 Member States, to come together with RVC members, WHO/Europe and ECDC to increase countries' capacities to document and report national elimination activities. Three years into the verification process, the meeting also presented a timely opportunity for WHO/Europe, ECDC, laboratory services and RVC members to present current data and highlight how their activities can support Member States in reaching the elimination goal.
As Lucia Pastore Celentano, ECDC Acting Head of the Vaccine Preventable Diseases Programme, said, "this meeting allowed for an exchange of ideas and challenges between the chairs of the national verification committees and the ECDC operational contact points for epidemiology of measles and rubella, bringing forward each group's roles and responsibilities for achieving measles and rubella elimination. The key to success lies within the countries themselves, and exchanging experience between Member States and fostering and strengthening effective processes is crucial."
Country ownership was highlighted in a panel discussion with representatives from various countries across the Region including Belgium, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Sweden, who described their unique processes, successes and reporting challenges.
A practical workshop on the second day provided participants with technical support in data reporting and an opportunity to review the revised reporting form.
The deadline for Member States' submission of the 2014 Annual Status Update is 31 July 2015.