Regional elimination and eradication efforts

Measles and rubella elimination

The Member States of the European Region recommitted to the joint goal of eliminating measles and rubella, through unanimous adoption of the European Vaccine Action Plan 2015-2020 (EVAP). WHO/Europe supports Member States in their efforts to reach this milestone.

A Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella elimination (RVC) was established in 2011, for which WHO/Europe serves as secretariat. This independent group of experts is tasked with verifying measles and rubella elimination in the WHO European Region. National verification committees for measles and rubella elimination (NVCs) compile and submit data annually to the RVC, in order to provide evidence for the interruption of measles and rubella transmission per country and eventually for the Region as a whole.

Polio eradication

At an historic ceremony held in Copenhagen in 2002, the European Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (RCC) certified that indigenous transmission of wild poliovirus (polio) in the European Region had ceased. Certification followed years of intensive effort by Member States, supported by a public–private coalition of WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Rotary International and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This collective achievement demonstrated the value of large, internationally coordinated vaccination campaigns and of special efforts to reach traditionally underserved groups, such as migrants or nomads.

By 2010, however, immunity had dropped to the point where an importation of wild polio type 1 led to a large polio outbreak in Tajikistan and three neighbouring countries. This outbreak led to 478 cases in both adults and children, and it killed 29.

As of the start of 2017, circulation of wild polio was at its lowest levels since records began, with fewer cases in fewer districts of fewer countries than at any previous time. Polio remains endemic in parts of only three countries. Until polio is eradicated worldwide, however, all polio-free regions, including the European Region, remain at risk of importation. WHO/Europe supports Member States in their efforts to maintain the Region’s polio-free status.